Troubleshooting Troublesome Toms

Troubleshooting Troublesome Toms

If you haven't had a tom hang up on you, then you either haven't turkey hunted enough or you have the keys to a top-notch turkey-hunting property. Last season my daughter and I were on our third spring hunt of the season. A distant, sunrise gobble spurred us to close the distance. When we felt like we were in the brushy neighborhood, we slipped to the edge of an opening, staked a decoy and commenced to calling. Immediately the blast of the gobbler roared from across the glade. He had to be less than 200 yards away and I felt confident that a turkey dinner was in our future.


TH1178,-Moving-on-a-gobbler-to-make-it-sound-like-the-hen-is-leaving,-copyright-Mark-Kayser

After 30 minutes of beating each other up I realized it could be pot pies for supper as the troublesome tom wasn't budging. It was time to troubleshoot this taxing tom.

Decoy Deceit

Before you even get into a troubleshoot situation, outfit yourself with the most realistic decoy available. The best decoys included real, mounted turkeys. They work for one simple reason: they're real. Instead of light reflecting from plastic, light shimmers off of iridescent feathers and those feathers ruffle in the slightest of breezes providing stimulation to a testosterone-charged gobbler. Add a few lovesick yelps to this scenario and only nearsighted gobblers would miss the flashing neon of a mounted turkey setup. A mounted tom works the same magic, but with a dominant approach.


If you're budget won't allow taxidermy, there are many new models that have nearly the same look of a mounted turkey minus the real feathers. Avian-X, Dave Smith and others have molded, and artistically painted their decoys with the iridescent colors for turkey realism.

Take it one step further and give your turkey decoys added motion on windless days. Use strong fishing line and attach it to your decoy. Run a length back to your ambush position. When a stubborn gobbler peeks into your neck of the woods, tug on the line to catch the eye of a bird in long-term parking.

Move

Traditional turkey hunters stubbornly find a spot and stay put until a turkey arrives. Toss tradition. The rules of nature actually call upon the excited hen to move toward a gobbling tom so it's no surprise that gobblers stubbornly wait for a seductive hen to arrive. Even if a gobbler begins your way, other unseen obstacles can cause a gobbler to suddenly cement its position. Steep coulees, creeks, ponds and even fences can stop a gobbler cold. If a gobbler suddenly sounds locked down, it may be time to consider moving. One tactic is to circle behind the bird.


Mark and Katelyn Kayser moved on a stubborn gobbler. After crawling, staking a decoy and calling, the parked tom came running. It also brought along a few friends to end the hunt with this double.

By circling behind a gobbler you place yourself in an area the bird has recently been. Since he's safely walked through that area, he oftentimes has no fear about retracing steps for a potential hookup. To keep track of the gobbler as you circle, use locator calls instead of turkey calls to entice a gobble. Crow caws or hawk screams can safely make a gobbler give away its position without using turkey calls. Turkey sounds could cause a gobbler move toward the call during your maneuver and before you're ready.

Another strategy to consider on a pig-headed tom is to leave and call as you slowly walk away. Turkeys have top-notch hearing and any gobbler will realize the hen is leaving. That antisocial moment could be enough to make a tom gobble and chase down the suspected love of his life

Shut Up

There's nothing wrong with aggressive calling strategies, but if a gobbler doesn't leave his parking spot you could simply shut up. Make him think he's not as special as he first thought. Think about this. If you aggressively call with nonstop pleading, you could make a gobbler believe you are on the way to him. That alone makes him think he's something special. Shut up for awhile and make him believe that there's another Tom Selleck waiting in the wings. That abrupt quietness could spark desperation and he may just stroll on over for a looksee.

If you've been calling incessantly, it may be time to shut up and make a gobbler think the hen is bored and prepared to leave.

To make the tom hunt harder and arrive within shooting range, set up inside thicker cover and avoid field edges. Make the gobbler hunt you. You'll still want to sit near a shooting lane, but choose a small opening to allow for a close shot when the gobbler sticks its head out to see if Tom Selleck is wooing his gal pal.

Neighborhood Brawl

Some of the best hunting calls mimic fights. Rattling for whitetails, bugling for bulls and even coyote growls have a fighting atmosphere that attracts curious sideliners. Gobblers also have a fondness for fights. Whether they believe toms are fighting for breeding rights or they just want to see a Rocky Balboa blowout, consider faking a fight to bring a gobbler running.

Imitating the sounds of two gobblers fighting within a flock may spark a parked gobbler to move.

To mimic the best gobbler fight mix cuts and yelps with fighting purrs. For additional authenticity, use a wing to create flapping noises and scratch at the leaves to replicate the sound of prizefighter turkey feet in action. A strutting tom decoy also adds into the dominance theatrics if a tom arrives.

The road-blocked gobbler my daughter and me were dealing with in the article opening still hadn't budged, so I hatched a plan to crawl across the opening and see if we could spot the bird behind a small rise. The crawl worked and in a hidden, prone position I staked a hen decoy in front of us. It only took a series of yelps for the gobbler to scream back. Tail feather tips told the story of a bird on a mission and in less than a minute Katelyn tipped that turkey over with a load of Hornady 5s.

Before we could celebrate three more toms charged in to put the wallop on the flopping bird. With a tag in my pocked, I whispered for Katelyn to hand me the CVA single-shot before reloading and taking aim. The morning ended with a pack load of more than 40 pounds of turkey dinner thanks to successfully troubleshooting troublesome toms.

Recommended for You

News

The Ticks Making Hunters Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians.

North America

From Bucks to Bears to Ducks, Saskatchewan Is a Hunter's Heaven

Lynn Burkhead - February 05, 2019

Whether you're looking for a whitetail, bruin or waterfowl adventure, Saskatchewan can be the...

How-To

How to Supplement Antler Growth with Food Plots

Jeff Johnston

Boost antler growth on your deer property with these food plot tricks.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 10: Snowbound Chamois

Host Brittany Boddington gets more than she bargained for on what turned out to be a grueling, snowbound and extremely physical hunt for chamois in Romania's Carpathian mountains.

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 8: Midnight Sun Grizzlies

Kevin Steele and CZ-USA's Jason Morton return to Alaska's arctic tundra for Kevin's second and Jason's third attempt on the legendary species. Things are looking up on day one but time will tell if the boys will get a shot a the king of the tundra.

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 14: Swamp Bulls

With his Mozambique forest bull in the salt, Craig Boddington sets his sights on the Marromeu grasslands in pursuit of a swamp buffalo.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Ammo

Is The 6.5 The Perfect Hunting Caliber?

Mike Schoby - August 18, 2017

The current 6.5 (.264 caliber) craze, is best attributed to the,'6.5 Creedmoor, but once...

Ammo

Is the .308 the Perfect North American Big Game Cartridge?

Richard Mann - January 26, 2015

Books have been written, stories have been told and lies have been concocted in an effort to

Stories

17 Dream Jobs in the Outdoor Industry

Kali Parmley - June 14, 2016

Combining a career with your passions is a goal that is strived for, but not often achieved....

See More Stories

More Wing Shooting

Wing Shooting

Foggy Turkey Hunt

PHTV Adventures - June 26, 2015

Kevin Steele, Jim McConville and Synergy's Pete Angle wait for the fog to lift for a shot at...

Wing Shooting

Partridge Hunting in Pakistan

PHTV Adventures - May 16, 2015

Craig Boddington and his guides take some time to hunt birds in Pakistan's Indus River Valley.

Wing Shooting

Hunting Osceola Turkeys in Florida

PHTV Adventures - June 26, 2015

Kevin Steele and company head on down to central Florida for an action-packed hunt for...

See More Wing Shooting

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×