Turkey hunters become addicted to the vibrant tail fans, reverberating gobbles, warm spring days and the in-your-face action these birds provide. In addition, they are a very worthy bowhunting adversary. These birds spend 12 months a year dodging predators like coyotes, foxes, bobcats and hunters. Their beady eyes miss nothing, and their ears can detect the slightest sound.
You may have heard that ground blinds are the only way to bowhunt gobblers, and they certainly play a critical role in many turkey-hunting situations. Run and gun is another method that can be just as effective when the situation arises. Both methods account for thousands of turkey casualties each spring. This article will review the pros and cons of both blind hunting and run and gun hunting styles.
The Cadillac-quality ground blinds on the market today are roomy, making longer hunts very comfortable and allowing you to spend more time in the woods. You can drink coffee, eat sandwiches, and stand up to stretch. Ground blinds can also keep you bone-dry when precipitation moves in. What’s more, a blackout interior will hide just about every movement you make. That makes drawing on a keen-eyed longbeard a snap. To top it all off, the better blinds on the market offer 360-degree shooting, increasing your odds of getting a shot when a tom comes in from an unexpected direction.
But ground blind hunting for turkeys does have its downsides. First of all, mobility is very limited. When gobblers roar in the distance, it’s awesome to have the option of going after them. Most ground blinds prevent you from slipping quietly through brush to cut the distance on a stand-still tom. In addition, setting up a blind and several decoys eats up time and usually cannot be done without some measure of commotion.
Public and private grounds that are heavily hunted throughout the spring also make ground blind hunting more complex. Many shotgun hunters immediately erupt from their blinds when they kill a tom, educating other turkeys in the area as to what ground blinds are all about. By the end of the season, gobblers begin avoiding blinds like the plague.
On the Run
Hunting on the run with just your bow and decoys offers unparalleled mobility. You have the ability to slip in ultra-close to the roost for an action-packed fly-down setup. In my opinion, the closer you can get to where a gobbler is going to fly down, the better your odds become of actually nailing him fresh off the roost as he investigates your decoys. If the early morning fly-down setup doesn’t seal the deal, you can typically stay on a given bird, making move after move until he finally gives in or quits answering.
Of course, run-and-gun hunting has some drawbacks. Getting to full draw on a gobbler without being hidden in the confines of a ground blind is a tough feat any way you look at it. To increase the odds of success, always try to set up decoys so that when a gobbler approaches, his head will disappear behind a tree or other obstacle before he gets to the decoys. This takes some planning. Before setting up, spend a few moments evaluating terrain features, what sort of obstacles are available to conceal any movements, and the most likely route Mr. Tom will use to approach the decoy setup. Only then should you shove the decoys into the dirt and begin calling. Calling prematurely can cost you when a tom pops into view and either busts you or fails to present the textbook shot you had hoped for. Planning your setup before you start calling allows you the best chances to close the book on a magnum gobbler when the opportunity comes knocking.
Another downside to on-the-run hunting is that you are limited in terms of your movement. You won’t be able to stretch or make any sudden moves like you can when concealed inside a ground blind. In addition, hunting without a blind puts you at the mercy of the weather. Spring weather is about as predictable as the lottery. That’s why traveling hunters need to take a full arsenal of clothing.
Ground blinds. Hunting on the run. Both have their place in the spring turkey woods and are equally effective mediums for notching out your tag. Evaluate the scenario at hand, and pick the better option for the given circumstances.