The hung up gobbler. You may have met him. More than once. Well, he has an alter ego. The slink away tom. You’ve probably met him, too.
There’s a trick you can use to shoot both of them. Patience. Oh, how boring. But oh how effective. And frequently. The frustrating thing about tom turkeys is they’re turkeys. Who knows why they do what they do?
One morning they fly down into your lap. The next they fly to the next state. But at noon they might return. And there’s the hint.
Turkeys aren’t chained to small territories, but they’re pretty faithful to favored spots. Roost trees are a great example. So are open strutting grounds and feed fields. How many times have you watched the same bird or birds fly to a field edge, preen, strut, gobble and fuss around for an hour and then file into a pasture or alfalfa field. They feed across it and into a distant woods. That evening they filter through the woods back to the roost tree.
Routine stuff. So have patience and take advantage of it.
If you know routine travel routes, take advantage of them. Set up where you’re pretty sure the flock, or a single tom, will pass close. Then stick it out. Sit quietly, watch, call every ten minutes or so and keep your hopes up. Eventually a tom will slip within hearing range. The next thing you know he’s gobbling in response, strutting right in and you’re sweating to carry 20 pounds of turkey home.
But what about that early morning tom that flirts with you for an hour, then drifts away? Hang tight again. He knows you’re there, but he probably has a real live hen with him. After he’s done courting her, he just might return for a new liaison with that naughty hen he heard at dawn. Hey, you know you’re in his strutting area and you know he’ll be back some time. Why not wait him out?
Patience. It’s not exciting, but it works.