I had set up on a lone public land gobbler early in the season. A few soft calls and the loudmouth tom was on the ground, heading my way. Without warning, the bird flanked my setup and spotted me as I attempted to reposition for a shot.
Two weeks later, I was still trying to kill that bird. He would gobble his head off, only to walk directly away. Sometimes he would answer, sometimes not, but he never stepped toward me. Previously spooking this tom had altered his behavior. It was time to change my approach.
My new strategy: I would call from my initial position and then immediately move fast to the other side of the bird.
The next time out, I found myself back on the ridge where the tom committed two weeks prior. He began gobbling shortly before daybreak. I didn’t make a sound until the bird flew down, hoping to avoid alerting him to my presence. After he pitched down, I let out one loud series of yelps. The ornery tom answered and promptly headed the opposite direction. As crazy as it sounds, I immediately backed off the ridge and flanked the bird 180 degrees. After closing the distance, I clucked and scratched in the leaves, just loud enough for him to hear. Within minutes, the tom’s red head came bobbing through the timber straight toward me. Needless to say, there is now one less stubborn tom on that ridge.
Most turkey hunters agree the toughest longbeards are those that have been previously educated throughout the season. These are the stubborn birds that head the other way when you start calling, and after an unsuccessful chase, leave you empty-handed and miles from the truck. This hunt was a prime example of a high-pressure tom.
After blowing my first attempt to kill the bird, there was no way I was going to call him in using similar tactics. Knowing that the tom would likely head the other direction after my first call, I moved my position around him and called softly, only one time, to close the deal.
Note: A high pressured bird like this generally only struts and gobbles in areas they feel comfortable, and when moving, will walk in an alerted posture. This tom came in to my setup in similar fashion with his head up, red in color and on high alert.
Next time you encounter a stubborn tom, be ready to adapt your game plan. Educated turkeys can change their behavior but can still be predictable.
Wrong-Way Toms was last modified: January 29th, 2018 by Bill Winke