Run and Gun Turkey Hunting Method | Plan, Be Mobile & Talk Turkey
By: Dylan Hayward
The unpredictability of hunting wild turkeys is what has created a culture of avid turkey hunting enthusiasts over the past six decades, since the conservation success of the turkey population, after near extinction from over hunting and habitat loss. Today there are nearly 7 million wild turkeys in North America, and it's one of the nations most animals to hunt, right behind the whitetail deer. It’s no secret that turkey hunting can be a really hot and cold adventure. The erratic behavior of these birds means that you can go from seeing nothing, to having a Tom right in your lap in a matter of minutes. But there are methods to improve your odds and stabilize some of that unpredictability, such as the Run-and-Gun strategy. This method refers to actively moving around a property, trying to locate a Tom that is searching for a hen. Before this was a well known strategy, my friends and I would all call it the “Walk and Call” method. Find a spot that looks promising, hit a few calls and listen. If you aren’t hearing any close gobbles, walk to a new spot. It's hard to beat the custom GoWild pot call from Ridge Rocker.
Planning Your Turkey Hunt Strategy
While the idea of the Run-and-Gun strategy might seem like it's a method solely based on circumstance and that it is all improv, there is still a lot of planning that goes into it to ensure that you are successful. Generally what I like to do is scout a few days before my hunt. I like to check spots that have an ideal habitat for turkeys, whether that be creek bottoms, newly cut fields that turkeys love to congregate to look for food or a Tom looking for hens, and lastly, food plots. I do some light calling, wait for some promising gobbles, and choose my opening day spot. But I’m not married to that spot. If I think the action has gone down, I discreetly get up, walk to a new spot, periodically hit a loud box call, attempting to locate a Tom. Once I hear a close gobble, the fun begins. Knowing where to use the Run-and-Gun strategy is of the most importance. If you're interested in turkey calling strategy check this out, "Speaking Fluent Turkey | Turkey Calling Tips & Strategy".
Be Mobile When You Turkey Hunt
With how unpredictable wild turkeys can be, it’s extremely important that you remain mobile when possible. Using the “Run-and-Gun” technique for turkey hunting offers you more opportunities to get on a stubborn Tom, and saves you from the common problem of setting up in a cold spot, or an area where a Tom is already “henned up”. A lot of times when people hunt turkeys they are afraid to get up, fearing that they might miss an incoming Tom, or worried that a turkey might spot them as they’re changing locations. Don’t hesitate to change it up if the current spot isn’t working. Turkeys are unpredictable by nature, so just because you have your decoys set out in a field and you’re hitting all of the right calls, doesn’t necessarily mean a Tom is going to come running towards you. Sometimes, you have to go to him.
Using this method will help you make the most of your time in the woods. Here in Ohio, for the first half of the spring turkey season, you aren’t legally allowed to hunt after 12pm, so it’s critical that you don’t waste time sitting in a spot that has gone cold. And remember, a Tom's best defense is his eyesight. When changing spots or moving to a different location, make sure to be as discreet as possible. With the right amount of planning and some patience, this strategy can lead to an exciting and successful hunt.