Sit Still for an Hour after the Turkey Quits Gobbling to See and Take More Turkeys
Editor’s Note: Tracy Groves, the Mossy Oak Regional ProStaff Manager for Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York, is a licensed minister. He’s also the founder and president of Heartwood Outdoors, a nonprofit organization that works with children who come from single parent homes and has a 160-acre farm in Big Pool, Maryland. At the farm, Groves helps teach the children about the outdoors, including archery and hunting skills and moral values.
I'm often asked, “How does hunting and being a pastor fit together in your life and in your work?” God is the Creator. He’s created the earth and all the animals that live here. When we’re in the outdoors, we get to reflect on the awesomeness of God and all He's created. I'm also a turkey guide, and I guide hunters whenever I get a call. Last year I guided turkey hunters in Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Oklahoma and my home state of Maryland. In an average year with a 42-day season, I’ll guide 38 of those 42 days. In 2014, I called 22 gobblers into gun range, but only three of those turkeys were harvested, making for a very tough year.
Two of the biggest mistakes I see hunters make when turkey hunting is they get impatient, and they move too quickly. When you hear the turkey gobble, he's getting closer and closer to you, and he's gobbling even more, your body gets loaded up with adrenaline. Then when the turkey becomes silent, the hunter thinks the hunt is over. The hunter will start to get restless, move around and look. They get uncomfortable with how they’re sitting. They don’t realize the hunt actually begins when the turkey shuts-up. Generally this time is when he's the closest, and he’s the most likely to see you.
In my younger years when I was impatient, I only might remain on my stand for about 15 or 20 minutes after the turkey became silent. Now, when a turkey stops gobbling, I don’t even think about moving until an hour has passed on my watch. If a turkey is within 150 yards of me when he shuts-up, then I don’t need to think about moving for an hour. The turkey generally will come on to within gun range looking for a hen. So, if I have only one tip to give to our readers to improve their odds for taking a turkey, I suggest that they take watches with them into the woods. When the gobbler quits gobbling, look at your watch, and force yourself to stay on your stand. Don’t move around for an hour after the bird has quit gobbling. If you'll use this strategy, you'll see more turkeys, and you'll take more turkeys. The reason the watch is so important is because when a turkey quits gobbling, 15 minutes feels like 30 minutes, and 30 minutes feels like an hour. Another factor you have to remember is that turkeys have short legs, and they don’t walk very fast. Too, the gobbler is expecting the hens to come to him, instead of him going to the hens. Often, this causes the birds to walk much slower than normal, as he’s watching and waiting for the hens to come to him.