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The Turkey Hunting Do-Over

How to salvage your hunt (and season?) after bumping a bird.

The Turkey Hunting Do-Over

After you’ve bumped a bird and called again from a different spot, be ready to shoot. If the tom comes in, he’ll likely be silent. (Photo by Doug Howlett)

Whether you hunt small properties or large ones, at some point you’re going to accidentally bump a tom you planned to work.

This can be particularly gut-wrenching on a small parcel, as that may be the only tom you have to work. But don’t just walk away disgusted. With a little patience and strategy, you can still save the hunt.


Turkeys have incredibly sharp eyesight, and a hunter will sometimes bump a tom when he’s still gobbling from the roost without realizing he’s strayed within the turkey’s field of view.

If the tom bails from his roost, he usually won’t go more than a few hundred yards. Back out of the area, loop around as much as the property lines allow and try to come in from a different way.

Odds are, when you bumped the tom from the limb you also pushed him away from hens roosted nearby. He’s going to want to rejoin them. If you approach from a different direction, he may just assume you are one of his girls and come strolling in after he has settled down.


Another common scenario is you toss out a hen yelp, a tom responds several hundred yards away and you try to close the distance. Problem is, he had the same idea and the next turkey sound you hear is the dreaded putt as a red head goes bobbing off through the trees.

This scenario requires more patience to let the bird settle down, but the approach is similar. Loop around, give it a half hour to an hour, change the call you were using as well as your cadence so you sound like a different hen and try to strike the longbeard back up.

He’s not likely to come in roaring; in fact, he’ll most likely slide in silently this go- around. Give it time, call sparingly, keep your eyes peeled for movement and listen for his footfalls as he approaches through the leafy understory.

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