by Chris Larsen
This article has nothing to do with telephones. Turkeys that "hang up" stop just short of shotgun or bow range. They just won't budge and ethical hunters know taking a shot is a bad idea. At best you will miss completely and at worst you will wound the animal. In the case of a gobbler like this the only option is to get him closer. There are several schools of thought on what the best method for reeling in a hung up gobbler.
Silent But Deadly
In most cases it's not that a tom won't come to a decoy. It's that the turkey won't come to calling or a decoy as fast as we would like. Many gobblers operate on "turkey time." That is, they do things in their own time and aren't concerned with a schedule. No matter how much we beg and plead with our calling, they are waiting until the moment is right in there mind. The best way to deal with birds like this is to get them curious by putting your calls away.
The Yelp Is No Help
The first call most turkey hunters learn is the yelp. Yelping is great to bring turkeys from afar closer to your location and is often all you need to close the deal. However, since everyone in the woods is yelping, experienced gobblers will often put the brakes on until they hear some different turkey music. Soft clucks and purrs can often get the job done. Another old turkey hunting trick is to scratch the leaves around you to mimic a feeding hen turkey. If you've got a turkey hanging up, more yelping isn't going to help in most cases.
It doesn't seem logical but one of my favorite strategies for hung up turkeys is to move away from them. If you are hunting with a partner, have them move away from your position and begin calling. If the cover is thick, have them move around. A hen turkey moves around as she feeds and calling from a variety of locations will mimic the sound of a feeding hen. Again, lay off the yelping at this point. Some feeding clucks will usually get the job done.
Close The Distance
This is the riskiest tactic of this group, but I have seen it work on occasion. The gobbler is usually focused on a decoy and is looking in the general direction of a hunter's position. However, if there is suitable cover or a hillside blocking his view, you may be able to close the distance or circle around him. You will have more failures than successes with this strategy but if you feel like there is nothing to lose, it is worth a try.
Gobblers hanging up just outside of range can be one of the most frustrating parts of turkey hunting. It's like seeing fish on the graph but not being able to catch them. Keep in mind that turkeys are not in a hurry. Sometimes all it takes to close the deal is a little patience.
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