The other day I was in the office speaking with North American Hunter Managing Editor Dave Maas. We were exchanging stories about our recent turkey hunting misadventures. I told him about a bird I had spotted with two hens, which I tried putting the sneak on. Dave gave me a light-hearted, friendly hard time about employing spot-and-stalk on wild turkeys. (Dave also jokes all too often that shooting a turkey with a shotgun is “cheating.”) For Dave and others, I’ll share my take on spot-and-stalk turkey hunting.
I have hunted many-a-season, and been in many situations where the absolute only way to fill my tag on a longbeard is to put the sneak on him. If you’re into runnin’ and gunnin’ (which is often the most successful way to hunt turkeys), then you’d better be prepared for close encounters. If you come over the crest of a hill, around a corner, or etc. in pursuit of gobblers, and all of a sudden there one stands within range … are you going to let him walk? That’s a choice for each individual, and to each his own. But for me, that’s a dead bird.
Don’t get me wrong—I prefer calling a gobbler in just as much as the next guy. Calling will always be my first approach, but sometimes birds just aren’t receptive to calling. They can be henned up or just plain stubborn. Whatever the case, if I spend the time and money to go on a turkey-hunting trip and my best option is to spot-and-stalk or bushwhack a bird, then that’s what you’ll find me doing. Sure, if I have the luxury of hunting a location I can return to several times throughout the season, I’ll call until my hands go numb or I swallow a diaphragm call.
At the end of the day, the fine print on my tag always reads, “By signing this tag, you agree to do everything in your power, and use all of your hunting skills, to safely bag a bearded wild turkey.”
Yes, you can safely employ the spot-and-stalk method while turkey hunting. Evaluate your situation carefully each time, and don’t make any hasty decisions that could cost you life or limb. Also (sarcasm fully intended), please don’t ever walk into oncoming traffic.