QUESTION: As a beginning wild turkey hunter, I have been experiencing some difficulties. The gobblers will answer me for half an hour after daylight. After that, I can tell from the sound that they are moving away from me and then they shut up. What am I doing wrong?
ANSWER: You arent doing anything wrong. Neither are the gobblers. The culprits are the hens. The first order of business in the morning is for the gobblers to announce their presence. It is natures way that the hens come to the beckoning of the gobblers. Those of us who make the gobblers come to us actually defy nature -- quite often successfully -- but we are able to do this only if the hens dont get to the gobblers first. It is very difficult to call a gobbler that already has a dozen hens waiting patiently at the base of his roost tree. Think about it -- would you leave?
Later in the morning, most of the hens slip away from the gobbler to go to their individual nests to lay an egg. Often by noon the gobbler is alone, and he panics. At this point, he is very vulnerable. Thats why I like to hunt in the middle of the day. If you can get a gobbler to answer you at high noon, he will often commit suicide to get to you.
As for early morning hunting, try to get between the gobbler and his hens. They usually roost in separate areas.
QUESTION: I have shot and wounded three wild turkeys, never having recovered one. I use a good shell and I let the gobblers get inside of 35 yards. Every time, I have knocked the turkey down but he got up and ran, never to be seen again. Can you help?
ANSWER: You are going to have to help yourself. I cant tell you your specific problem, but somewhere in these lines you will likely find the answer.
I will surely offend some readers here, because unfortunately you are not alone. Even so, if I can help a few hunters solve this problem it will be worth it.
You must shoot a wild turkey in the head and neck with enough shotgun pellets to ensure an instant and humane kill. To do that, your gun must pattern the pellets well and hit where you aim. Try several brands of turkey loads until you find one that shoots a tight pattern. Use a full choke. Equip your shotgun with adjustable open sights, a telescope sight or a red dot sight. Zero the gun so that the center of the shot pattern hits the turkey target in the head.
Heres the part that might offend, and I dont apologize. After accomplishing the above, there is absolutely no excuse for ever letting a wounded turkey get away. If this continues to happen, perhaps you should stop hunting.
Emory Josey is a freelance writer who has a weekly column. Send questions for him to The Telegraph, P.O. Box 4167, Macon, Ga., 31208-4167, or e-mail him at email@example.com