Editor’s Note: Ernie Calandrelli is the director of public relations and advertising for Quaker Boy Game Calls in Orchard Park, New York and a longtime Mossy Oak enthusiast. I’ve hunted with Ernie over the years, and he’s one of the best turkey hunters I’ve ever met, so I wanted to know how he takes tough turkeys.
No one likes to miss or wound a turkey, but if you hunt long enough, it’ll happen. If you shoot and miss a turkey, and if that gobbler starts running or flying away, sit still until you know for certain he’s all the way out of sight. Then, sit still for another 30 minutes or an hour to see if that turkey will start gobbling again. The turkey doesn’t know what’s happened when that gun has gone off. He just knows something has frightened him. So, after I’m sure the turkey can’t see or hear me, I’ll stand-up and circle-around to get in front of the gobbler that I’ve just spooked. Pay attention to the direction the turkey has flown or run, so you can get in front of him and call from the opposite side. Call softly with a different call. I want the gobbler to think I’m another hen that’s out feeding. Honestly, this tactic doesn’t work very often. Most of the time you’ll have to wait until the next day to call that turkey again. The best thing to do if you miss a turkey is try to find another turkey to hunt.
A few years ago, I was hunting with my friend Dave Streb. He shot a turkey and knocked it down, but he didn’t get the gobbler. The turkey ran off, and we couldn’t get him to gobble again. So we went to some other places and hunted for about 4 hours. Then, we decided to return to the place where Dave had knocked the turkey down and not recovered him. We thought there should be other gobblers in that same area. We went back, set-up and started calling, Sure enough, a turkey came in, Dave got a good head shot, and the turkey went down instantly. As we began to clean the bird, we saw Dave had shot low the first time, and the pellets hadn’t penetrated the skin. We both were totally amazed. We knew for certain it was the same gobbler he’d shot earlier in the morning. Since then, several times I’ve gone back the next day to where I’ve missed a gobbler, called that same gobbler in and taken him, but that only happens with certain turkeys.
Sometimes I deliberately spook a gobbler. For instance, if I see a turkey out in the field, and I try to call to him, but he won’t come, I’ll back away from the field. I’ll go get my truck, drive up to the field and spook the gobbler. If you spook a gobbler with a vehicle, he’s not terrified like he will be if he sees a hunter. After I spook the gobbler out of the field with my vehicle, I’ll move my truck back to a place where the turkey can’t see it. I’ll hurry back to the edge of the field, sit there for 10 or 15 minutes and start calling. This time when the gobbler comes back to the field, I’ll probably get a shot.