Tips on Turkey Hunting — #16: PATIENCE
In a world of instant gratification, patience is a trait that doesn't come naturally. We live in homes with on-demand hot water and lights. Our phones have high-speed Internet, so a quick look on Wikipedia or some other website tells what we want to know almost instantly. One of these days, we'll be so demanding that we'll want a Star Trek transporter to put us where we want to be without waiting. Patience is a virtue, but it’s a virtue too many people lack. We've made the world an impatient place.
But if you're a turkey hunter, patience is essential, because good things come to those who just sit and wait. One season I was getting frustrated from guessing wrong every day about where a gobbler would be roosted. One morning I heard him sound off 300 yards away across a field. At 6:00 AM a hen flew down right in front of me and ran across the field to him like someone lit a firecracker under her tailfeathers. It would have been fruitless to follow her across the field, for at least a couple of reasons. One, the turkeys would see me. Two, the gobbler was busy with the hen. So, I waited.
After about an hour and started calling, offering a few lonesome yelps every ten minutes or so. In turkey language I was saying, "I'm a turkey, in case any of my feathered friends want to stop by for a visit." I interspersed the yelps with some soft purrs to say, "Come on over. It's safe here and I'm pretty contented." Shortly after 8:00, a gobbler sounded off behind me. Out of the corner of my eye I could see two gobblers. The trouble was I couldn’t turn around, and my calling wouldn’t convince them to come the 60 yards it would take for them to get in front of me. I decided to shut up and let them leave.
After 10 minutes I heard them gobble 100 yards away. I spun around to get to the other side of the tree, and began calling. They answered every call, but wouldn’t come. Finally I gave them the fighting purr and they came right in.
Proverbs 14:29 wasn't written about turkey hunting, but it applies here. "Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly" (NIV). It often pays to have a low-impact approach to turkey hunting—it keeps you from being tempted to take shortcuts to turn your hunt around. If you go hard all season long, you can burn out, and you can be tempted to give up. Don't give up. Get in the woods and practice your patience. Sooner or later it will pay off.
I’ll be posting more “Tips on Turkey Hunting” as often as I can until the end of May. I don’t claim to be the best turkey hunter around, but I’ll share what I know. It might be helpful to those who pursue America’s greatest game bird. While you're at it, check out my gobbler-killin' Northern Scratchbox turkey call at EverydayHunter.com/turkey-call. It's full of deadly sounds.