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What To Do When A Critter Spooks the Turkey


Editor’s Note: Chris Kirby is the president of Quaker Boy Calls, produces the Mossy Oak Turkey Thugs calls and has won the World Turkey Calling Championship. As a youngster, Chris trailed along behind his dad, Dick Kirby, who started Quaker Boy Calls, when they hunted. He never remembers a spring when he wasn’t in turkey woods. From the beginning of turkey season in Florida until the end of turkey season in New York, Chris will be wearing Mossy Oak camouflage, hunting turkeys in the spring woods every day – and for sure in the mornings.

You can do everything right, and the turkey is doing everything he’s supposed to do. He’s coming to you, you’ve got your shotgun on your shoulder, and your cheek is against the stock. You know within less than a minute you'll be squeezing the trigger on your shotgun. Then, a fox, a raccoon, a coyote, a cow, a dog, a horse, a goat or another hunter walks between you and that gobbler and spooks your turkey. Don’t throw your hat down, and start screaming and hollering like a baby who’s spilt its milk. Sit quietly, and let the critter leave the area, because turkeys are frightened by critters often several times daily.  

Kirby_day3Another common occurrence, especially if you're hunting in woods with numbers of deer is when an unseen deer comes into your calling location and either sees or smells you and gives an alarm call. The deer will run off, and so will the turkey. But as mentioned earlier, these critter encounters frighten gobblers often several times a day. So, while you're sitting there quietly wondering what you could’ve done, so the turkey wouldn’t have been spooked, remember that gobbler’s more than likely not going to leave the county. Here’s what I think. The turkey that’s been spooked usually thinks, “I've got to get out of here right now, because there's danger in this area.” Once that turkey feels like he's a safe distance away from where he’s been spooked, he’ll think about where he was going, and the hen that was calling to him. When that turkey was coming to you, he knew exactly where you (the hen) was, especially if he gobbled, and you called back to him. That turkey has pinpointed you like a man who walks into a house and says, “Hello,” to try to locate his wife, and the woman of the house yells back, “Hey, I'm up here in the bedroom.” Don’t forget, the turkey hasn’t been spooked by you and still has the urge to mate. So, stay where you are, look at your watch, decide to sit right where you are for at least 30 to 45 minutes, and don’t call. Using this tactic, the critter that’s spooked the gobbler is more than likely out of the area. Then you can start calling softly and possibly scratching in the leaves with your hand like a hen that’s feeding. Oftentimes that tom you’ve wanted to take will start gobbling again, and you'll have a reasonably good chance to harvest him that day.  

Day 2: Chris Kirby Says “You’ve Spooked the Gobbler - Now What”

Tomorrow: What to Do with Two Gobblers Fighting

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