Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
no gobbles, how much pressure?
About 10 years or so ago, a neighboring county only was open for spring gobblers for 1 week, the last week of the season. The adjoining county, just across the river, was open for the entire month.
You'd hunt for 3 weeks in the open county, and hear fewer and fewer gobbles. You'd hunt the opening week next door and birds would be tearing it up. The areas were not but a couple of miles apart in some instances. The difference in my mind was hunting pressure. Birds get bumped, spooked, over called to, and they get really cautious. Of course, some get dead.
I once was on a bird I named Uno. First of the season, he was extremely vocal. But his gobbling dwindled steadily. One morning he sailed out of the pines into that darn cutover he liked so much, hopped up on a stump, and clucked....one time. Hence the name, Uno. Always out of range of course.
Uno eventually hushed his morning gobbling altogether. But, he loved to sing so much he began to gobble some in the PM. Finally one moonlit evening he gobbled a few too many times from his night roost in the pines and I pinpointed him. Built a blind opposite him in that same cursed cutover by moonlight. Next AM, I was in that blind and I clucked one time myself. He sailed out and landed in range, big mistake.
Prof, I'd say you didn't really do anything wrong by trying to call to this gobbler. Heck, that's WHY we hunt them, to get'em to gobble and call one up. But it often doesn't work that way. If I couldn't get a response from that bird on my first try or two, with maybe a different type call each time, say a mouth call and a slate, whatever, I'd hush. And I'd not budge for an hour. Chances are, he heard you, but to why he did not answer is hard to say. He may be coming silent, may be with hens, you may have spooked him and not realize it, maybe a coyote or bobcat spooked him.
I used to hunt an area that had a heavy amount of vehicle traffic. On more than one instance, a bird in the open, on his way in, would spook at the mere sound of a vehicle on the gravel roads nearby. They began to associate the sound of a vehicle with human threat, predator, whatever, they would slink off. Similarly, I'd be on a bird, sounding off regularly from the roost, and vehicle would roll up nearby. Hooty hoot, hoot or yelp yelp yelp, but ......no gobbles. The door slams and the truck rumbles off. About 15-20 mins later the bird gobbles again on his own! On my old club with all the ROW's, by the end of the season, gobblers in the open would spook at the sight of a vehicle, especially one that slowed or stopped, at dx's approaching a half mile or more. They get educated, quick.
I've also seen call shy birds, the best bird I ever took was call shy. Goliath. My first two contacts with Goliath, he was in the open and I called from about 150-200 yds away. In both instances he pulled out of strut and slinked off. He absolutely did not like what I tried to tell him. Two different calls to boot, talk about a moral buster! I eventually cut that bird off on his way back to roost on a PM hunt. And you can bet I did NOT call that afternoon. That bird had a healed .22 hole in his lower breast bone. I should have kept that bone.
If I see a bird strutting in the open, especially if I see him more than once, that place is on my list. Often I will slip back in there VERY carefully, paying attention to skylines and minimizing my exposure, using drains and brush to cover my entry, and quickly plunk out a deke, maybe a deke and a jake, pop a blind and just let the decoy "call". A gobbler can spot that set up from a long way off, and it may well draw him in for an easy shot.