Turkeys can drive hunters to tears and tremors. How can a bird with a brain the size of a walnut outwit us so often? But that’s the game, and it’s what makes bagging a bird – especially a wily old longbeard – so satisfying. When a particular tom has you turned inside out trying to drop the hammer on him, maybe you need to consider employing some turkey hunting tag team tactics.
Few things are more satisfying than going mano a mano… or more correctly mano a tom-o… with a gobbler and ending the morning toting him out of the woods on your back. You scouted him, you figured him out, you plotted your moves, you called him (or didn’t)… you made decisions that won the game. Every turkey hunter should experience this feeling.
But for “getting it done” on a tough, wily gobbler… the kind that get named and become local legends… tag team hunting can be the way to go. And whether you or your hunting partner ends up pulling the trigger, the satisfaction of success remains mighty sweet.
1. Sit Back-to-Back
Wary tom turkeys somehow seem to know which direction you’re facing when you set up against a big old tree trunk, and always work out an approach that brings them in from behind, or at least on the side toward which it’s difficult for you to shoot. If you and a hunting partner (who shoots from the same shoulder as you) sit down back-to-back on opposite sides of that tree you’ll have 360 degrees covered. That tom can come in from any direction and there may be a safe shot with minimal movement.
Turkeys are absolute masters at triangulating the exact position of the source of a call, so only one of the back-to-back hunters should call to avoid confusing the bird about the position of the lone hen. Anything that confuses them puts them on the alert and gives them reason to hang up. You can’t play to a turkey’s curiosity… because they don’t have any.
2. Cut and Run Hunting Technique
A pair of hunters working together can actually use the turkey’s ability to triangulate the source of a call against him. Say you and your partner are working along a logging road and a gobbler responds. You set up and begin to call. It becomes clear the bird is moving your direction, but rather slowly. Well before there’s any chance the bird can see you, one of the hunters should quickly move at least 100 yards directly away from the turkey and hide again. He or she should wait a minute or so, then call again at the same volume that was getting the response. This may convince the tom he’s losing the hen of his dreams and encourage him to speed up the approach.
To make the turkey’s need to hurry even more urgent, consider adding gobbles to the calling sequence. This can make him believe the departing hen may be about to be acquired by a rival. This tactic also focuses his attention beyond the waiting hunter left in ambush and can result is some mighty close range shooting.
How do they do it? You can scout a bird on the roost five days in a row and decide to hunt him on the sixth. Five times out of five you watched and listened, and that tom flew down to the same spot each morning and left it in the same direction. Yet when you go to hunt him on the sixth, he completely changes up his routine because new hens roosted nearby… or for even no apparent reason at all. If two hunters split up and cover two likely fly down sites and departure routes, you’ve just doubled the odds of taking that bird when his toenails hit the turf… or shortly thereafter.
While this tag team tactic is effective, it requires that both hunters know the terrain and each other extremely well. You should go in when the birds are away from the roosting area and pick out the exact spots at which each of the hunters will set up. Make certain there’s no chance that you’d be shooting in the direction of the other hunter and vice versa. Both of you must commit to staying put in those spots until the bird is killed or has moved out of the area. Set a time at which you’ll simultaneously leave your setups and a place you’ll meet to check in. For safety sake, there can be no improvising that leads to you not knowing exactly where your partner is at… and vice versa.
Tip: Learn more about what turkeys do during the day: Information about Wild Turkey Behavior - LINK
|Turkey Box Calls|
4. Tag Team Turkey Calling
Hunting side-by-side with a partner allows each of you to employ your best strengths, especially when it comes to turkey calling. Maybe you are a champion-class clucker and yelper while your buddy has mastered the gobble. Putting them together may be what it takes to pull that local legend longbeard into range of some #6s.
|Quaker Boy Gobble Turkey Locator Call|
A combined calling strategy works especially well for two hunters concealed in a pop-up blind. If you’ll both be shooting, be certain to designate safe zones of fire for each hunter before calling commences. Setting up a flock of the right turkey decoys also adds realism to this illusion. If there’s going to be gobbling, there should be a strutting tom or jake in the mix. If you’ll both be calling like hens, then there should be more than one hen decoy in the flock. However, anytime you’re placing decoys be certain you know who else is hunting around you and set the dekes in such a way so that no one else can approach them without you seeing them.