After the 2021 deer season ended, Drury Outdoors team member Michael Heffernon knew that his shorter axle-to-axle bow was not the right setup for him. With a longer measuring bow ordered, Heffernon planned to break it in on a scheduled Kansas turkey hunt in early April. However, when the time came to travel to Kansas, his bow still had not arrived.
Heffernon has hunted turkeys since he was ten years old and knows that mistakes and mishaps happen when hunting. "When my new bow didn't arrive on time, I knew it was either not hunt or take my crossbow instead," said Heffernon. Making sure his crossbow was dialed in, Hefferon headed to Kansas because skipping the hunt was not an option.
After arriving in Kansas for the archery turkey opener, Heffernon explained he knew that two gobblers were using a particular field corner that would make the perfect set up to use his crossbow. "I knew that the two gobblers frequented the corner of the field during the evenings." With the knowledge of the presence of the two gobblers, Heffernon elected to set up early the following day; setting up his Avian X decoys, he began calling.
On the morning of Heffernons Kansas hunt, he says the toms were gobbling near his setup. The first to arrive at the decoys were a few hens and a group of jakes. "After looking back on the footage, a jake stayed at the decoys for over an hour," stated Heffernon. Throughout the jakes time at the decoys and random gobbling, two toms farther back in the timber fired up and began inching in to see what was causing the excitement. "When I began hearing the longbeards, I started yelping at them, and sure enough, they saw the decoys and were coming my way," said Heffernon. A few moments later, Hefferon made the shot on his first longbeard ever taken with a crossbow.
Many things can make a hunt go south in turkey hunting if one gives up or lets a mishap control the hunt's outcome. Instead, like Heffernon experienced on his Kansas archery hunt, never giving up and doing whatever it takes to make the hunt happen can lead to success when the odds are stacked otherwise. After talking with Heffernon about his willfulness to keep hunting, he shared three common mistakes he experienced while turkey hunting. Again, not letting mistakes affect the hunt and continuing to hunt is vital for a successful turkey season.
As in everyday life situations and hunting, patience is key to success. Having patience when a tom goes quiet is vital when trying to harvest a spring gobbler. Heffernon recalled many times when he would set up on a gobbler that would be fired up and gobbling, and the tom would go silent. When a tom goes quiet, Hefferon explains he is guilty of grabbing his decoys and leaving or thinks that he knows where the tom is going and would try to intercept his path. "I've thought I knew where a gobbler was headed and have left my decoys in place to go find him, only to come back, and my decoys were knocked over from a tom coming in while I was gone." said Heffernon, adding, "If I had been more patient and waited, I would have got the shot."
Another common mistake that Heffernon says spring turkey hunters make is overcalling to a tom. When a tom is making his way to the call, and he is gobbling. Heffernon explained how it is second nature for the hunter to want to keep calling to make the tom keep gobbling. "I think it is important to keep communicating with a tom when he is coming to the call. But I think there is a point when you can turn him off from coming closer if you continue to keep calling; I think a hunter can shut up the hottest gobbling birds," added Heffernon. Instead, keep calling to a minimum and make the tom search for the call.
Quit Calling When Bird Is Committed
Heffernon's third common mistake is related to overcalling, and he described how a hunter needs to know when to stop calling, ultimately when a bird is committed. When a visual has been made on a gobbler, and the hunter elects to keep calling, it only gives the gobbler another opportunity to pinpoint their location. "I often use my decoys to do the rest of my calling when a gobbler sees my set," said Heffernon. He then added, "I will say there are times when a tom sees a set and doesn't come running to the setup, then a hunter might throw out a fighting purr or another type of call to bring them the rest of the way." Otherwise, stop calling when the tom is committed and let him come.
The definition of the word "mistake" in the Merriam-Webster dictionary reads as follows, "to blunder in the choice of." Mistakes often happen because of the choices we make, yet more often than not, mistakes can turn into triumphs if we learn how to persevere.
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