Turkey Hunting Tactics: The “Run & Gun” Dilemma

by Steve Sorensen

This Mistake Has Cost Hunters Lots of Gobblers

It’s late in the morning, and gobbling turkeys are few and far between. Or it’s late in the season, and gobblers are roaming or maybe losing interest.

That’s when many hunters take up “running and gunning”. And they might be making a big mistake.

I’m not a “run and gun” style of turkey hunter. In fact, I have a couple of problems with the term “run and gun”.

turkey hunting tactics

A last-minute New York gobbler that fell to
sneaking and speaking.

For one thing, it suggests we’re doing something we should never do – and that’s run through the woods with a shotgun. Not only does “running and gunning” imply a huge safety concern, it also creates mayhem in the turkey woods at a time when gobblers are already suspicious. The gobblers have been harassed all season, and they don’t tolerate commotion. It’s time when we should be letting things settle down.

If it’s the rhyme of the words “running” and “gunning” that has a certain appeal, then OK. I like poetry too. So I call my strategy “sneaking and speaking”?

The fast pace of the “running and gunning” style of turkey hunting leads some hunters to make a simple mistake. Here are two similar, common scenarios, one done wrong and the other done right.

Scenario #1

The hunter hurries through the woods trying to cover distance. He’s like the fisherman who is covering the water, hoping to raise the interest of a trout lying in a hidden hole.

So, he keeps a call handy, and broadcasts the sounds of a pretty little hen into any and every nook and cranny in the landscape where a gobbler might be hanging out. He’s ready, if he doesn’t get an answer, to hurry on to the next likely spot.

Then, a gobbler responds and the hunter is in trouble.

Why? Because he hasn’t made mental notes of possible calling locations, so he scrambles around looking for a place to set up. Maybe the best place to set up is 50 yards away, but with a gobbler almost there, he has no time to get to that tree. His choices are poor – he either hustles to that tree, or sets up in a bad calling location. Either way he’s taking a chance, and his odds of bagging that gobbler go way down.

Scenario #2

no noise no panic text boxThe hunter sneaks through the woods trying to cover distance. He’s like the fisherman who is covering the water, hoping to raise the interest of a trout lying in a hidden hole.

So, he keeps a call handy. Wherever he stops he takes a few seconds to look for a good calling location. He eases to that spot and makes a couple of clucks. If he gets no answer, he yelps. Then he might yelp louder, or change to a call with a different pitch. If he still doesn’t get an answer, he looks for another place to repeat the routine.

At one of those locations, a gobbler responds, and the hunter has given himself the advantage. In seconds he can set up and call. No noise. No panic. No wasted time. And hugely increased odds of bagging that gobbler.

In my way of thinking, the “running and gunning” method of turkey hunting is much more suitable for fall hunting. In the fall you’re trying to scatter a flock before setting up to call, so noise isn’t as much of a factor.

In the spring, put yourself into a “sneaking and speaking” frame of mind. With that strategy you’ll act more like a hen turkey, be more believable to the gobbler, and be ready for the suicidal gobbler who is ready to rush to the sounds of the last pretty little hen he’ll ever hear.


About Steve Sorensen

Steve Sorensen, Outdoor WriterAward-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 your next sportsman’s event, and follow his writing on his website, www.EverydayHunter.com.


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