A lot of turkey hunters ask me about this because it can make a hunt tough when that old Tom gobbles but then hangs up just out of range or fails to come in. I have had that happen many times and there are a few tricks to help.
First understand that when a Tom responds to your calls, keeping him gobbling may not be the best thing to do. I have seen guys call back to a Tom several time per minute just to hear the gobbles and keep him coming. Understand that mother nature never really intended for the Tom to come to the hen. In reality, the hen usually comes to the Tom. When they hear that big gobble, they generally start moving that way. Knowing this, a few tricks can play to your advantage.
1. Play hard to get – this is my go to tactic for many Toms. He gobbles – I call. He gobbles again, I shut up unless he has moved significantly closer. Once he gets to feeling like you may be moving out of the area he often will come in for an appearance. Then your decoy takes over!
2. Ditch the decoy – once we near the last few weeks of the season, I will generally not use a decoy. Too often I have seen Toms come out of the woods, gobble at my decoy, strut and then leave. Why wouldn’t he? He has learned all season long that receptive hens come to him. Well…maybe he does not use the word receptive…
3. Fade away – I have had luck with hung up Toms by simply moving 50 yards or so further away and then starting back with confidence calls (clucks, purrs). Again, give him the feeling you are simply leaving. Lonliness can make a turkey do weird things.
4. Pick a fight – Often a hung up Tom is with another hen. he’ll follow her all over the field. Sometimes hitting her with aggressive cuts, clucks and fighting purrs can get her to come over for a look bringing that lovesick puppy along.
5. Move closer – There are some Toms that will simply not leave a hen to go find a call. These guys can be killed if you simply move a bit closer and call again. Often he will strut right over while keeping the sure thing in sight and try to make an appearance for the new hen. Don’t confuse this with stalking a Tom because smart hunters just don’t do that…as that gobble your stalking could be another hunter!
6. The waiting game – Maybe the best be can be to simply wait. After that hung up Tom is done with his current hen, he will often come back to the area where he heard the last hen (you) and you’ll be ready. These guys often come in quiet so you best be on your guard.
Hung up Toms can be tough as they are usually with hens. Take your time and learn when to use basic methods that can help. Those hung up birds are susceptible to a lot but you have to be patient. After all, the challenge is what draws us back each year. Have fun and be safe!