Although I suspect I will continue to be a loner on most of my days in the turkey woods, there are times when two hunters working in tandem, can get the job done when the best loner in the woods will fail. Here is how it works.
Anyone who has hunted turkeys very much can share with you experiences of gobblers, which appeared for all-the-world to be cruising right into their last party when all of a sudden they had second thoughts. Sometimes they hang up out-of-range and just flat refuse to take another step. Often, they will strut their little hearts out and even choke out a gobble now and then, but advance? Not likely buster. And even though there have been countless magazine articles, book chapters, DVD’s and TV shows on the very subject of dealing with what we hunters simply call “hung-up-birds,” the truth is that there is no magic love song, which will force a gobbler to tip-toe across that invisible line. And that, is where team work pays off.
Let’s say you and your buddy get a bird to gobble not too far ahead of you. It’s tempting to just flop-down, shoulder-to-shoulder, backs against a stout tree, get your shotguns resting comfortably over your left knee (for right-handers) and wait for the show to begin. And sometimes, it is quite the show. But you can avoid the dreaded hang-up, by splitting up. Decide beforehand who is going to be “the shooter” and who will be “the caller.”
When that bird gobbles, don’t rush around like a crappie flopping around on the cleaning table, just take a good look around and find a place for the shooter to sit down and get ready. For years, it has been my habit to carry one of those H.S. Strut fold up blinds in the rear pouch of my turkey hunting vest. If there is decent ground cover, you won’t need one, but if the woods are fairly open, I will risk taking a few extra moments to set up these very lightweight, effective and portable blinds. I know that over the years, I have killed some birds which I otherwise would not have taken, had it not been for the extra cover the blind provides.
No Need For A Decoy
In this buddy hunting situation I do not bother with a decoy. Nothing against decoys mind you, I have shot a lot of gobblers over decoys and hopefully will knock down a few more. But in this buddy system the whole idea is for the caller, who will be sitting anywhere from 20- to 60 yards behind the shooter, to draw the gobbler right into the shooter’s lap. A decoy will sometimes work against that plan, because it is not unusual for a gobbler to stop and strut-his-stuff as soon as he lays eyes on his lady-love. So just let the caller do his job and save the decoys for other setups.
All of this works out really well IF the gobbler cooperates and sounds off often enough so that you can keep tabs on his progress. But today, as birds are subjected to more and more hunting pressure, it is not uncommon for gobblers to come to the call while keeping their beaks mostly shut. In fact, some gobblers, and often the oldest among them, come in as quiet as a hummingbird. It takes a couple of cool customers to sit tight for a half-hour or longer with no outward sign that a gobbler is sneaking along slowly in your direction. And make no mistake my friends, even a bird, which stands four feet high at the tip of its snood and weighs 20 pounds or more, can move through the woods as silently and effortlessly as a wisp of ground fog.
By trading off in the caller and the shooter positions, you both might walk out of the woods with a gobbler strung over your back.
The really cool thing about tag-teaming turkeys, is that both you and your buddy (or buddies) get to enjoy in the excitement of the hunt. By the way, if you are hunting as a threesome, just have the shooters set up 20 yards apart (parallel of course).
It should go without saying, that safety comes first in any buddy hunting set-up. Always know exactly where your partner (s) are sitting at all times and never pull the trigger until you are 100 percent sure that not only is your target a real turkey, but that there is not another hunter in line with the gobbler.
And one last bit of advice, let the caller do all of the calling. If the shooter starts calling it ruins the setup because then the gobbler will look for the nearest hen and the whole idea is to have him coming to the caller who is setup behind you.
This is an absolutely deadly tactic when two or three hunters are hunting together.
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Gary Clancy writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. Gary has hunted whitetail deer in 20 different states and provinces. He has harvested many record-book animals, and presented hunting seminars from Tennessee to Wisconsin. Gary also has authored or co-authored six hunting books, four on whitetail hunting.