Most hunters love the rush of adrenaline they get when a turkey gobbles on an early morning sit, but that chemical surge can often lead us astray. Adrenaline is the body’s fight-or-flight fuel, and when neither is appropriate, it creates a feeling of urgency and near-panic. Neither is desirable on a turkey hunt. They cause us to overreact and lead ourselves into situations that almost always end in failure.
Here are 7 situations where careful thought and planned movements should trump adrenaline-based decisions.
Closing Too Fast
Folks are often really loud when quickly closing the distance to a gobbling turkey. Gobblers can hear you walking through the leaves a lot farther than you think and there’s always the possibility of being seen by the turkey. In all cases, it’s best to approach with caution, using as much stealth as reasonably possible. Vary the cadence of your steps and take note of the turkey’s location each time he gobbles, because you never know when he may be moving toward you.
The Surprise Gobbler
Overreaction is often the norm when a bird gobbles close by. Hunters usually panic and post up against the nearest tree they can find and start calling immediately. Avoid simple mistakes like these by taking a minute or two to pick out a suitable setup tree and stand or sit beside it some time to situate your gear and gun before calling.
The Talkative Gobbler
When a turkey gobbles at everything, it feeds the rush and most hunters end up overdoing it. Control yourself and if the terrain allows, use the gobbler’s gabbiness against him. Since he’s so vocal, it’s easy to keep track of his whereabouts, and you can use that knowledge by getting ahead of him if he’s moving or closing the gap. Get into a position of strategic advantage if he’s stationary.
Getting Too Close
It’s always possible to get too close to a gobbling turkey. This is a hazard early in the morning, when the turkey is still on the roost. Know that there is a line between you and that gobbling turkey and you can’t cross it. Be wary of distance and chose your setup accordingly.
Don’t Be Hasty
If you have some idea of which direction a bird will fly down in, select your position with that in mind. But, if the bird doesn’t come off the roost in the direction you predicted, don’t be so quick to move. If the gobbler responded to your call before flying down, he wasn’t alarmed, and he remembers where you are. Before you chase along behind him, try calling him back to your position. It might take several hours for the gobbler to get around to you, but it’s a pretty good bet that if he answered you from the limb, he’ll eventually check you out.
Check Your Shooting Distances
The first order of business after you sit down is to figure out your zone of fire. When a gobbler is in sight, and the rush has you by the throat, it’s easy to underestimate the distance and take a shot when he’s still too far away. To avoid this, determine your maximum shooting distance in several directions before the gobbler shows up. Pick out landmarks, and if you’re not good at estimating distances, invest in a range finder.
Less than Perfect
No matter how cautious you are, though, you’ll still find yourself mired in unfortunate situations of your own making. Such is the power of the rush; such is the nature of turkey hunting. Every turkey differs from ever other turkey, and every turkey hunt differs from every other turkey hunt. Even the same turkey will react differently on different days.
Combine that inherent unpredictability with the heart-pounding, hair-raising effects of the rush, and there’s no way to avoid making mistakes. We can try to minimize them, and that’s about the best we can hope for.