Ken Bailey

Gunning for your first gobbler? Check out these 6 essential tips

The Greenhorn Gobbler Guide

A turkey tenderfoot’s take on how to topple a tricky tom (or not)

Patrick Walsh
Patrick Walsh

Lesson #5: Improvising

A lesson I learned from fishing has great application in the turkey fields: don’t die in the hole. On some days, toms won’t gobble, or they’ve simply moved from where you expected to find them. If you’re not getting a response, pick up and move to another location. You can always return in the evening or the next day to try again, but when it’s not unfolding as anticipated, change your plans.

I made a rookie mistake on my first Alberta turkey hunt, for example, when I sat and watched two toms walk away after closing in just shy of shotgun range. I didn’t know any better at the time, but I’ve since learned they probably just saw something that made them a little nervous, given they didn’t run. Whatever the case, my mistake was to stay put when I should have quickly snuck around to where the birds were headed and set up again. They were ripe to be picked, but I missed the signs.


The lesson here is to be aggressive when the situation demands. Be proactive about making something happen instead of hoping it will, especially when the signs are telling you it won’t.

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