John's Journal... Entry 136, Day 1
Don't Move on a Hung-up Gobbler
EDITOR'S NOTE: There have been times in my hunting career when I've had to fight my natural urge to take a turkey so that I could learn important lessons about turkey hunting. But, on no hunt was my patience tested more than when I hunted with Allen Jenkins, president of Lynch Calls. Jenkins learned to hunt turkeys from an old master during the days when few people even knew what a wild turkey looked like, much less how to call and hunt one.
On the day we hunted, the turkey was gobbling his head off. Even the most inexperienced hunter easily could determine that the bronze woods wizard was fooled. But the turkey wouldn't come in to our blind. "He's hung up," I whispered to my two hunting companions, Allen Jenkins and J.C. Brown with Lynch Turkey Calls. Brown answered, "Well, some folks may think that the turkey is hung up, but not us. Just be patient, and we'll get that old bird.
"Here's the situation. The turkey is on the other side of a fairly deep ditch," Brown said. "He doesn't want to fly across that ditch. He knows he shouldn't have to fly across the ditch because that gobbler realizes that the hen should come to him if she wants to be serviced. So he is trying to gobble, strut and drum enough to get his lady friend to cross the ditch and come to him like she should."
But after an hour of working the turkey, Brown and Jenkins had lured the proud gobbler no closer than the edge of the ditch some 100-yards away. Although I had traveled to Louisiana to learn how these men hunted, after an hour of hearing a big tom gobble his head off, I felt I had to do something, even if it was wrong. Since I have hunted turkeys for many years, I could think of several methods to kill a turkey that wouldn't cross a natural barrier like a ditch. I decided we could leave our blind, circle the turkey, get on the same side of the ditch with him, then call him up and take him. So, I suggested that tactic to Jenkins and Brown. "No, I don't think so," Brown said. "We're not going to bushwhack that gobbler. That's not playing the game fairly."
"Bushwhack," I thought, "moving on a turkey is not bushwhacking. That's just good turkey hunting." But I was a guest. And I always try to hunt the way my host prefers to hunt -- even if I think he is wrong. However my patience was wearing very thin after listening to the turkey gobbles for an hour.
I was convinced that if I applied the tactics I had learned, I could kill the bird. Ten minutes of calling, gobbling and silence passed before I spoke again. As we sat in the blind, I studied our situation, the turkey's position and what other technique I could use to kill the turkey without "bushwhacking him." We were set up in a blind on the point of a U-shaped field. The gobbling bird was across a ditch about 50 yards from the bottom of the U-shaped field. I thought I could belly crawl across the field, slip into the woods and move in on the bird, while Brown and Jenkins kept calling. Since the turkey was moving up and down the ditch, I assumed that all I had to do was wait until the turkey moved away from me and slip into the area where the gobbler would surely return. After I explained my strategy to Brown and Jenkins, Jenkins said, "We're not going to bushwhack the turkey."
TOMORROW: WHY NOT KILL THE BIRD?