Hunting the Walking and Talking Gobbler with Rick White

Editor’s Note: Rick White of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, longtime Hunter’s Specialties’ pro and avid turkey hunter, hunts turkeys all over the country. White not only is a professional hunter, he’s also a videographer, a video editor and a seminar speaker. He also appears on Hunter’s Specialties’ videos and TV shows. We’ve asked White tell us how to take three of the toughest turkeys hunters will face this season, and this week he’ll tell us how he takes the walking and talking gobbler.
Question: Rick, last week we talked about hunting a gobbler in love with a harem full of hens. What’s another bad bird our readers may encounter during hunting season, and how do you deal with him?
White: A tough turkey to take is the gobbler that will gobble back to your calls, but because his gobbles continue to get softer every time you call to him, you know he’s gobbling and walking away from you. Most people refer to this gobbler as being call-shy. He’s an ole, smart bird that knows when he gobbles, a hen’s supposed to come to him, regardless of his direction and his behavior. If the hen doesn’t come, he doesn’t really want to go to her. When I realize this is the type of turkey I’ll be hunting, I’ll close the distance to him, making sure I’m far enough away that he can’t see me. Don’t spook this turkey by trying to get too close to him, if you expect to take him home to dinner with you that night.

I want to keep that turkey gobbling, so I know where he’s located and can determine in which direction he’s going. Too, I want to keep him gobbling, so I know where he stops and/or when he turns around and starts coming back to me. To do this, I may use a Hunter’s Specialties crow call, if the gobbler will gobble at a crow call, instead of using hen yelps. However, if he won’t gobble at a crow call, I’ll often yelp to him as I walk behind him. This way, he thinks a hen is following him.

When the gobbler reaches his destination and knows a hen’s been following him, oftentimes he’ll decide to come back and meet her. You must know where the gobbler is positioned because when he comes back to meet the hen and sees you, the game is over. If the turkey doesn’t turn and come back to you, that gobbler is on a mission to reach one particular spot in the woods.

Generally a walking and talking tom already has decided where he’s going and why. Once he reaches the spot he wants and stops to start calling from that place, you can move in closer. But be sure not to let him see you. Then start calling to him and you’ll have a really good chance of getting him to come to you.

To take a turkey like this, I also will freeze him out. When I realize a turkey is walking away from me, I’ll often put my turkey call on the ground, look at my watch and decide to sit in my location and not call anymore for 30 minutes. You have to put your call on the ground and watch your wristwatch because with your call on the ground, more than likely you won’t pick it up and use it, if you decide to wait 30 minutes. Waiting those 30 minutes is the most difficult part of this tactic. If you don’t look at your wristwatch to know exactly when 30 minutes has elapsed, 10 minutes in turkey woods easily can feel like 30 minutes anywhere else.

Like me, there aren’t many turkey hunters disciplined enough to wait the full 30 minutes without calling and without looking at their watches. But many times if you wait 30 minutes, that old gobbler will come in and respond to your calling. During those 30 minutes, the gobbler realizes this particular hen that has just talked to him won’t come running to him. If he’s out there by himself, he doesn’t have hens, and he hasn’t been able to attract hens with his gobbling, he’ll start looking for a girlfriend. And, he’ll remember where he’s heard that last hen. So, oftentimes he’ll return to the spot where she’s talked to him last to see if she’s still there. That’s when you can take him.