The Bachelor Pad: How to Find Where Gobblers Die, Part 1
by Steve Sorensen
Think gobblers are pressured where you hunt? Think about my home state of Pennsylvania, with nearly a million hunters. Not all of them go after spring gobblers, but many who do buy a second tag. That keeps pressure on the gobblers all season long, so they need a place where they can put up their spurs, relax, and entertain the ladies. They need a bachelor pad.
Hunters sometimes don’t realize it, but lots of gobblers are killed at their bachelor pads. That’s where a gobbler wants to be, and when you find that place, that’s where you kill him. This article will tell about the kinds of places where gobblers set up to meet the ladies. In Part 2, I’ll write about some practical applications – how it has worked out for me.
At least three factors play into how a gobbler selects his bachelor pad – the place where he meets the ladies. Look for it on the high ground…
1. Where he can be safe – Contrary to what many hunters think, the first priority of a gobbler in the springtime isn’t to breed. It’s to survive. Without safety, he won’t get to pass on his genes to a new generation.
Since all kinds of hunters want to eat them, turkeys must be masters of survival. (And by “hunters” I include not just the ones toting shotguns, but also natural predators like coyotes, foxes, owls – they all love fresh turkey meat.)
We’ve all heard that it’s more challenging (though not impossible) to call a turkey downhill. The reason is safety. If a turkey is going downhill, his risks are greater. If he turns around to run uphill he loses a precious second or two – enough for a fox or coyote to grab him. And if he meets a threat when he goes downhill, it might be easier to get airborne in that direction, but he’ll be heading right for the threat.
But if he’s going uphill, his best and fastest direction of escape is usually to turn around and flee downhill. After all, it was safe there just a second or two ago. This isn’t a conscious decision; it’s simply an outcome of natural selection. It’s was bred into him. When turkeys retreat downhill, they escape more often, and survive to breed and pass on that trait.
That’s one reason you’ll find more gobbler bachelor pads on high ground than anywhere else. Another reason is that’s the place…
2. Where he can be seen – Gobblers prefer a meeting spot where they’re visible. In hilly country, that’s usually on elevated ground. That doesn’t mean they’ll never choose low land, but if they choose low land it will be a place offering a fast and easy escape from the love nest.
Turkeys are not masters of camouflage like some prey animals. Being seen is important to in the bird kingdom where it’s always the male that is the pretty one. Males are colorful, females are drab. It’s the male that puts on a display to get the attention of females. That’s true of the birds at your feeder.
Face it, guys, in the bird kingdom, the girls ain’t the ones that are dolled up. And the gobblers are the ones who strutt their stuff. Sound familiar?
Another reason gobblers want to be seen is that in the world of turkeys, it’s the hen that comes to the gobbler. We’re trying to reverse that when we take up a stationary position and offer sweet, seductive calls. That’s one of the reasons gobblers sometimes hang up – they expect the girls to come to them.
So, a gobbler’s bachelor pad is a place where he can show of his beauty. Finally, it’s a place…
3. Where he can be heard – In hilly country, a hilltop or a side hill offers a place where their gobbles will carry. In fact, in the early spring before the tree canopy has sprouted leaves, on a calm day it’s possible for a lusty gobble to be heard a mile away.
That might seem surprising, but remember that bare tree trunks and limbs offer little to dampen and absorb sound. So, up high in the hardwoods, the acoustics are great for gobbles to reach out and touch the ears of lots of hens.
Late in the season, when trees are leafed out and hens begin sitting on their nests, gobblers get a little anxious about finding hens. So, they might leave their bachelor pads in search of a receptive hen. That means there’s an optimum time for finding bachelor pads, and for success at killing the gobbler that entertains the ladies there.
Next post, I’ll share some hunts that demonstrate the truth of what I’ve said here.
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About Steve Sorensen
Award-winning outdoor writer and speaker Steve Sorensen loves the Havalon knife, and has been a fan of knives since he begged his dad for a hunting knife when he was six years old. His articles have been published in Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine, Sports Afield, and many other top magazines across the USA. Invite Steve to speak at
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