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Teamwork Turkey hunting

Go team!

Hunters in a teamwork situation should decide in advance who will call, who will shoot and when. Stick to the plan to avoid misunderstanding. Also, don’t buddy up with someone who you can’t trust completely. Your safety depends on how you and your companion react in the presence of game at close quarters.

Lastly, remember that teamwork situations can be productive, memorable and, most of all, fun.
— J.H.


Teamwork toms

I must admit that hunting wild turkeys one-on-one is generally the ideal scenario for me. There’s no denying, however, that many situations lend themselves nicely to a teamwork approach.

For example, sometimes teamwork is called for because most of the local turkeys are concentrated in a small area. Rather than separate and possibly wind up working the same birds from different directions, it’s better and safer for a couple of hunters to stick together and try to call the birds to one spot.

In such a situation you and an experienced friend can set up several yards apart and work a single tom, or several, as if there are two hens beckoning. But by all means, if you’re both watching the same approach route, be sure to agree in advance as to who gets the first shot, depending, of course, on where the birds finally appear. Remember, for the time being, cooperation is the watchword. Competition is not.

Another time for teamwork is when you’re mentoring someone new to turkey hunting. Usually it’s best to put your shotgun aside and focus on the newcomer’s hunt. Sit close to the new hunter and communicate in whispers. You do the calling and tell the hunter what to look for, when to get ready and when to shoot. Try to control your own excitement until after the shot is made.

I recall a situation years ago when a beleaguered female hunter simply couldn’t bag a turkey while her excitable husband was with her. In that particular case a mutual friend offered to sit with the lady, while her husband and I climbed to the crest of a ridge above their position.

We knew there were at least two Merriam’s toms in the shallow canyon below the hunters and we hoped our calling from above would prompt the birds to show themselves.

Happily, it worked like a charm. When the toms were just 20 steps from the hunters, the lady took her shot, and a few minutes later her husband and I found her admiring her first tom. I’m willing to bet she’s still smiling.
Another form of teamwork involves a measure of trickery and deception designed to bring hesitant gobblers into range.

If you’ve hunted turkeys much at all I’m sure you’ll recognize the situation my buddy Tom, and I faced onedewy morning with a quartet of pesky Rio Grande gobblers.

To set the scene, we were “camp-out” hunting in a place familiar to Tom that was loaded with turkeys. The surrounding area, except for a couple of two track access roads and a few grassy openings, was thick with pine trees and oaks. The weather, after recent rain, was ideal — clear and not too warm or too cold.

In the morning, we actually heard gobbling from camp as we sipped our coffee. Suitably fired up, we quickly put our cups aside, gathered our stuff and hurried toward the birds. After a short hike, we found a likely place to set up. It was an opening in the woods that extended down slope to the stand of trees where the toms were roosting.

The gobblers were still vocalizing sporadically when Tom, who was sitting a few yards to my left, dug out his box call and announced our presence to the world. The answering cacophony of gobbles was impressive. When the turkeys flew down I called a bit, and they repeated the symphony. Good, I thought, they’re hot and lonely.
To make the story short, the birds came in our direction. However, when the toms were directly below us, but still out of our sight, they hung up like they were in a cage. They continued to make a lot of noise in response to our calling, but they wouldn’t budge an inch.

After awhile, I figured it was time to try something drastic even if it was wrong. “Sit tight,” I whispered to Tom. “I’m going to back off and call as I go. It might make those loudmouths think the ladies are leaving.”
With that, I zigzagged through the woods, calling softly every few minutes like a hen feeding slowly away. It didn’t take long for the hopeful feathered Romeos to get the message, and the next round of gobbles told me they were definitely on the move toward Tom. When his shotgun roared, I did my best rendition of an end zone touchdown dance. Thankfully, no one was watching!

Teaming up on gobblers is not the final answer to all your turkey hunting woes. However, there are times when working together is definitely worthwhile. — John Higley