Troubleshooting Troublesome Toms

Troubleshooting Troublesome Toms

If you haven't had a tom hang up on you, then you either haven't turkey hunted enough or you have the keys to a top-notch turkey-hunting property. Last season my daughter and I were on our third spring hunt of the season. A distant, sunrise gobble spurred us to close the distance. When we felt like we were in the brushy neighborhood, we slipped to the edge of an opening, staked a decoy and commenced to calling. Immediately the blast of the gobbler roared from across the glade. He had to be less than 200 yards away and I felt confident that a turkey dinner was in our future.

TH1178,-Moving-on-a-gobbler-to-make-it-sound-like-the-hen-is-leaving,-copyright-Mark-Kayser

After 30 minutes of beating each other up I realized it could be pot pies for supper as the troublesome tom wasn't budging. It was time to troubleshoot this taxing tom.

Decoy Deceit

Before you even get into a troubleshoot situation, outfit yourself with the most realistic decoy available. The best decoys included real, mounted turkeys. They work for one simple reason: they're real. Instead of light reflecting from plastic, light shimmers off of iridescent feathers and those feathers ruffle in the slightest of breezes providing stimulation to a testosterone-charged gobbler. Add a few lovesick yelps to this scenario and only nearsighted gobblers would miss the flashing neon of a mounted turkey setup. A mounted tom works the same magic, but with a dominant approach.


If you're budget won't allow taxidermy, there are many new models that have nearly the same look of a mounted turkey minus the real feathers. Avian-X, Dave Smith and others have molded, and artistically painted their decoys with the iridescent colors for turkey realism.


Take it one step further and give your turkey decoys added motion on windless days. Use strong fishing line and attach it to your decoy. Run a length back to your ambush position. When a stubborn gobbler peeks into your neck of the woods, tug on the line to catch the eye of a bird in long-term parking.

Move

Traditional turkey hunters stubbornly find a spot and stay put until a turkey arrives. Toss tradition. The rules of nature actually call upon the excited hen to move toward a gobbling tom so it's no surprise that gobblers stubbornly wait for a seductive hen to arrive. Even if a gobbler begins your way, other unseen obstacles can cause a gobbler to suddenly cement its position. Steep coulees, creeks, ponds and even fences can stop a gobbler cold. If a gobbler suddenly sounds locked down, it may be time to consider moving. One tactic is to circle behind the bird.

Mark and Katelyn Kayser moved on a stubborn gobbler. After crawling, staking a decoy and calling, the parked tom came running. It also brought along a few friends to end the hunt with this double.

By circling behind a gobbler you place yourself in an area the bird has recently been. Since he's safely walked through that area, he oftentimes has no fear about retracing steps for a potential hookup. To keep track of the gobbler as you circle, use locator calls instead of turkey calls to entice a gobble. Crow caws or hawk screams can safely make a gobbler give away its position without using turkey calls. Turkey sounds could cause a gobbler move toward the call during your maneuver and before you're ready.


Another strategy to consider on a pig-headed tom is to leave and call as you slowly walk away. Turkeys have top-notch hearing and any gobbler will realize the hen is leaving. That antisocial moment could be enough to make a tom gobble and chase down the suspected love of his life

Shut Up

There's nothing wrong with aggressive calling strategies, but if a gobbler doesn't leave his parking spot you could simply shut up. Make him think he's not as special as he first thought. Think about this. If you aggressively call with nonstop pleading, you could make a gobbler believe you are on the way to him. That alone makes him think he's something special. Shut up for awhile and make him believe that there's another Tom Selleck waiting in the wings. That abrupt quietness could spark desperation and he may just stroll on over for a looksee.

If you've been calling incessantly, it may be time to shut up and make a gobbler think the hen is bored and prepared to leave.


To make the tom hunt harder and arrive within shooting range, set up inside thicker cover and avoid field edges. Make the gobbler hunt you. You'll still want to sit near a shooting lane, but choose a small opening to allow for a close shot when the gobbler sticks its head out to see if Tom Selleck is wooing his gal pal.

Neighborhood Brawl

Some of the best hunting calls mimic fights. Rattling for whitetails, bugling for bulls and even coyote growls have a fighting atmosphere that attracts curious sideliners. Gobblers also have a fondness for fights. Whether they believe toms are fighting for breeding rights or they just want to see a Rocky Balboa blowout, consider faking a fight to bring a gobbler running.

Imitating the sounds of two gobblers fighting within a flock may spark a parked gobbler to move.

To mimic the best gobbler fight mix cuts and yelps with fighting purrs. For additional authenticity, use a wing to create flapping noises and scratch at the leaves to replicate the sound of prizefighter turkey feet in action. A strutting tom decoy also adds into the dominance theatrics if a tom arrives.

The road-blocked gobbler my daughter and me were dealing with in the article opening still hadn't budged, so I hatched a plan to crawl across the opening and see if we could spot the bird behind a small rise. The crawl worked and in a hidden, prone position I staked a hen decoy in front of us. It only took a series of yelps for the gobbler to scream back. Tail feather tips told the story of a bird on a mission and in less than a minute Katelyn tipped that turkey over with a load of Hornady 5s.

Before we could celebrate three more toms charged in to put the wallop on the flopping bird. With a tag in my pocked, I whispered for Katelyn to hand me the CVA single-shot before reloading and taking aim. The morning ended with a pack load of more than 40 pounds of turkey dinner thanks to successfully troubleshooting troublesome toms.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Fare Game: Elk Tartare

Fare Game: Elk Tartare

David Draper shows you how to properly prepare Elk Tartare.

Hunting Coues Deer South of the Border

Hunting Coues Deer South of the Border

Former Delta Force Operator Kyle Lamb hikes the rugged desert mountains of northern Sonora in pursuit of the diminutive Coues species of whitetail.

B&C Typical Mule Deer

B&C Typical Mule Deer

Doug Burris Jr's typical mule deer taken in 1969, could just be one record that will never be broken.

Top Ten Hunts

Top Ten Hunts

Here at Petersen's Hunting we have compiled the 10 best hunts caught on camera from the last 2 years of Petersen's Hunting TV. Enjoy!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you. Conservation

Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd?

Jeff Johnston

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.

We evaluate the 6.5 in a real-life case study. Ammo

Is The 6.5 The Perfect Hunting Caliber?

Mike Schoby

We evaluate the 6.5 in a real-life case study.

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

Here's how to toughen up the weakest link in your shooting system. Optics

How to Mount a Rifle Scope for Maximum Accuracy

Joseph von Benedikt

Here's how to toughen up the weakest link in your shooting system.

See More Trending Articles

More Wing Shooting

Kevin Steele highlights his weapon of choice for an Osceoloa turkey hunt in central Florida. Wing Shooting

Gearing Up for an Osceola Turkey Hunt

PHTV Adventures - June 26, 2015

Kevin Steele highlights his weapon of choice for an Osceoloa turkey hunt in central Florida.



Out West, big game gets all the glory, but the left half of the country offers an unbelievable Wing Shooting

2015 Western Upland Game Planner

David Draper - October 23, 2015

Out West, big game gets all the glory, but the left half of the country offers an...

Follow these tips for finding birds in the pressured backcountry. Wing Shooting

Deep-Woods Hunting For Pressured Turkeys

Tony J. Peterson

Follow these tips for finding birds in the pressured backcountry.

I barked to that bird a hundred times, and he must've answered me a hundred and fifty. He'd come Wing Shooting

Tips for Tackling the Impossible Tom

Jeff Johnston - April 11, 2016

I barked to that bird a hundred times, and he must've answered me a hundred and fifty. He'd...

See More Wing Shooting

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now