I hadn’t intended to write about turkeys two weeks in a row, but that was before I stumbled across a copy of a five-year-old “Turkey-Taker’s Quiz.” According to the press release that was still paper clipped to it, it was the brainchild of well-known outdoor writer John Phillips. I’ve known John for many years, and, while he’s among a very short list of people who think he’s anything out of the ordinary as a turkey hunter, he’s a very smart man and a truly gifted writer. Besides, the press release stated unequivocally that taking this five-question quiz will “sharpen the skills you need to bag one of the more than 7-million gobblers across North America.” That beats the heck out of wasting a lifetime studying the accursed critters.
Alas, I didn’t do particularly well when I took the quiz five years ago, and I didn’t do any better when I retook it a few minutes ago. I’m not sure what that means, but I once guided a man who was totally frustrated with my calling strategy until he lowered the boom on a 25-pounder with a 12-inch beard. Maybe he was right when he looked me in the eye and said, “The only thing you know about turkey hunting is how to kill turkeys.”
Now it’s your turn.
1) Although you’ve been scouting for two days, you haven’t heard a gobble. You’ve bagged a tom before on this same land. Do you:
a) Return to where you’ve bagged a gobbler previously;
b) Keep attempting to make a turkey gobble;
c) Continue to scout to gain more information about the local turkeys;
d) Go to places where you assume turkeys will be.
2) While hunting in a river bottom, you locate a tom on the other side of thigh-deep water. Which tactic will be best:
a) Shoot across the water;
b) Run upstream or downstream to find a crossing point;
c) Wade across the water;
d) Attempt to call the turkey across the water.
3) How can you bag a gobbler that won’t fly down until he sees hens that are roosting nearby?
a) Use a turkey decoy.
b) Flush the gobbler, walk in the direction he flies, set up and call.
c) Get ahead of the hens when they fly down, and take a stand.
d) All of the above.
4) When turkeys won’t gobble, make them gobble by:
a) Using a crow or an owl call;
b) Calling loudly;
c) Calling like a blue jay;
d) Using a gobble call.
5) Where hunting pressure’s high, the best time to bag a gobbler is:
a) As soon as possible after legal shooting time in the morning;
b) Late in the morning when few others are hunting.
The “official” right answer to the first question is “a.” Hunting for memories works just often enough to have sent me traipsing down that primrose path on many an occasion. Even so, I chose C by process of elimination. Not only is it impossible to learn enough about a piece of property in only two days, it’s seldom a good idea to try to force turkeys to gobble while scouting and assuming anything about what a gobbler will do as is required by both A and D is risky business.
The undisputed answer to the second question is “b.” It shouldn’t take a high school grad-u-ate to figure out that wading into enough ice-cold water to reach your thighs is insane even if the bottom is solid–and that’s a big if in a Missouri river bottom. Shooting across a body of water is illegal, and calling a gobbler across water is an uncertain proposition. That leaves B, find a place to cross the water safely.
I’ll concede that the least-wrong answer to the third question is “d.” However, a better option would be to leave the gobbler alone until late morning and then return to his roost area.
The alleged answer to the fourth question is “a,” but in my opinion, the correct answer–a short, loud blast on a referee’s whistle–wasn’t among the options. Then too, why is it so all-fired important that a turkey gobble at that particular moment.
As for the fifth question, even though any turkey hunter worthy of the name will be in the woods before dawn, the correct answer is “b.” I got that one right.
So how did you do? Send me an email if you’ve got a mind to.