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The Run and Gun Approach to Turkey Hunting

By Heath Wood

In turkey hunting, success often hinges on adaptability and thinking on your feet. While traditional methods like waiting patiently in a blind or setting up decoys can yield results, another approach puts the hunter in the driver's seat: the "run and gun" technique. This highly dynamic strategy involves actively covering the ground, calling, and pursuing gobblers during midday hunts. In this guide, we'll explore the "run and gun" approach, covering everything from essential gear to advanced tactics for maximizing your chances of success in the field.

While hunting on private land in southern Missouri, I found myself naturally inclined to adopt a run-and-gun approach to turkey hunting should the right opportunity arise. The terrain lent itself perfectly to this style, with a several-mile stretch of pipeline cutting through the entirety of the property. This forty-yard-wide path provided an open pathway for swift movement. The rolling hills afforded ample opportunities for concealment, allowing me to cautiously peer over and anticipate the sight of a strutting gobbler in the open expanse or gauge the distance needed for a close, compelling shot. Mid-morning on the first Saturday of the spring season, I was dealt the perfect cards to use the pipeline as a run-and-gun pathway. After having two gobblers go a different direction after their entail fly down from the roost, I waited until mid-morning, grabbed my crow call, and started down the pipeline to try and shock a tom into giving up his location. Sure enough, after the third hill, I got a close-by response; I eased up the hill as much as I could without being skylighted from the other side, set my two decoys out in the open, then tucked myself in the edge of the timber and gave off a soft hen yelp. A few short moments later, I heard the spit and drum of the strutting gobbler approaching near the hill's peak. The beautiful fan of the strutting tom was the first glimpse; then his head appeared at twenty-five steps, where he gave me the perfect shot. The run-and-gun plan of attack worked flawlessly.

Understanding the "Run and Gun" Strategy

run and gun approach

At its core, the "run and gun" technique is all about mobility and agility. Instead of staking out a single location and waiting for gobblers to come to you, this approach involves actively seeking out birds and closing the distance through strategic movement. By staying on the move, hunters can cover more ground, locate responsive gobblers, and increase their odds of a successful encounter. This dynamic hunting style requires a certain fitness level and a willingness to adapt to changing conditions on the fly.

Essential Gear and Equipment

To excel as a mobile turkey hunter, having the right gear and equipment at your disposal is vital. This includes a lightweight and comfortable hunting vest or pack such as the ALPS Outdoorz Impact Pro Turkey Vest to carry essential items such as calls, ammunition, and water. A quality turkey call, such as a slate or box call, is crucial for enticing gobblers within range. Additionally, a reliable pair of binoculars can help you spot birds from a distance and plan your approach accordingly. Mossy Oak clothing that blends seamlessly with your surroundings is also necessary to stay concealed while moving.

Techniques for Effective Mobility

The key to success with the "run and gun" approach lies in your ability to cover ground efficiently and quietly. Move slowly and deliberately through the woods, scanning the terrain for signs of turkey activity, such as tracks, scratching’s, or droppings. When you hear a gobble or spot a turkey in the distance, pause and assess the situation before making your next move. Use natural features like trees, rocks, and brush to conceal your movements as you close the distance. And remember, patience is still a virtue – don't rush your approach or make unnecessary noise that could spook nearby birds.

Identifying Ideal Hunting Locations

While the "run and gun" technique can be effective in various habitats, specific locations lend themselves better to this hunting style. Areas with open terrain, such as fields, pastures, or clearings like the pipeline I hunted, are ideal for spotting gobblers from a distance and planning your approach. Additionally, transitional zones where different habitat types converge, such as edges of fields or woodlots, can be hotspots for turkey activity. Pay attention to the time of day and weather conditions, as gobblers may move to different areas throughout the day for food, water, or shade.

The "run and gun" technique offers a thrilling and dynamic approach to turkey hunting, allowing hunters to actively pursue gobblers and adapt to changing conditions in the field. You can become a highly successful mobile turkey hunter by equipping yourself with the right gear, honing your calling skills, and mastering the art of adequate mobility. So, the next time you hit the woods searching for gobblers, consider embracing the "run and gun" approach – you might find yourself with a trophy bird in tow.

Read More: Running and Gunning


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