Ever wondered what exactly happens after getting busted by an old gobbler? Here is a pretty cool figure uploaded by Mike Chamberlain - now better known as The Turkey Doc - showing how some gobblers actually respond to interactions with turkey hunters. The hunter's movements are in blue, while the gobbler's movements are provided in yellow, via tracking device.
To sum the image up a bit, both the hunter and the bird go back and forth with each other for some time before they actually encounter at the red star. The turkey then travels nearly two miles and roosts on private land that night. According to the report, this gobbler actually did not return to the public land, surrounding the point of the encounter, until well-after the season had ended.
Of course, not all birds react the same as this one did, and there's a Correlation vs. Causation argument to every encounter with a wild turkey. Also, with this study having been recorded on public land, the chances of this being its first encounter with a turkey hunter are pretty slim. The bird seemed to have made a bee-line to a safer haven, beyond the public boundary, in which he likely knew pretty well.
Like many woodsmen will tell you, if you've never bumped a bird or missed a routine shot, you just haven't hunted long enough - because with time it happens to all of us. As long as the bird isn't the only one leaving the woods with a higher education than which he arrived that morning, there will also be a smarter turkey hunter in the woods next go-round. For some spooked birds, that next opportunity might be the following morning, for others like this one, not until the next season - but it will happen.
I can speak for myself, and probably many others, when a new turkey hunter asks what they should do as the gap between them and a bird they're after begins to close. The answer to that question is rarely accurately captured by what to do, but rather by what not to do. A three or four year old gobbler will teach you, himself, nearly everything you need to do - beginning with a few lessons of exactly what you should not have just done.
Whether it's a hunter's setup, calling, movement, gun-placement, backdrop, or countless more areas open for error, more times than not, a slick old gobbler will immediately make it quite obvious of what you needed to learn the hard way to become a better turkey hunter that morning. The more lessons you learn, the better you get - and just when you think you've learned them all, there's a bird out there that will quickly remind you, that there's always one more.
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