Run And Gun Turkey Tactics

By Mark HuelsingMay 2, 2013

LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015

April and May are always crazy months for me – demands at work, priorities of family, and the changing of seasons always demand much of my time.  I typically don’t have many, if any, chances to scout before turkey season opens, and I also don’t have access to hunt pristine lands with a predictable turkey population.  Because of this time crunch, and limited hunting opportunities during the short season, I can’t afford to sit back and try to figure out the movement of the birds.  When I hear a gobble, I want to go!

There’s no doubt that hunting turkey from the ground, “Run and Gun” style, is both humbling and incredibly exciting.  It is hard to beat the eyes and strategic mind of an old gobbler, but boy is it a ton of fun trying! Moving beyond the obvious tips, such as practicing effective concealment, let’s take a look some of the lessons that I’ve learned the hard way, while out playing the “run and gun” game with turkey.

Don’t Talk With Your Hands
Things happen fast when you are playing the run-and-gun game.  It is important that you are ready at any moment, and that includes having both of your hands free at all times to operate your weapon.  I’ve tried fooling with box calls, pot calls, and the like, but for my aggressive style, nothing beats a mouth call.  Not only does a diaphragm call free up your hands, it also provides you the versatility to easily change up your tone, as well as “throw” the direction of your calls. (shop turkey calls)


When choosing equipment during “run and gun” outings, stick with those that will allow you to move fast and keep both hands free. For example, using a “mouth” call instead of one that must be operated with your hands. 

Be Passive/Aggressive
All turkey hunters have encountered the fired up gobbler that is coming in on a terror and then holds up out of range.  It is a frustrating situation!  I got tired of this exact scenario, so I decided to turn the tables and be the one to play “hard to get”.  Now one my favorite techniques are to be aggressive and then hold up.  I will silently sneak in a gobbling tom, and then once in range fire off some excited yelps or cuts.  If that doesn’t bring the ‘ol tom coming in, then instead of calling and calling, trying to coax him, I’ll play passive.  I will either retreat and call, or use my diaphragm to throw my calls as if I am the one that has lost interest.  This technique doesn’t always work, but it sure has piqued the interest of some otherwise stubborn gobblers. (concealment options)


Sometimes it is best to be quiet once you have a gobbler’s attention.

Bring A Silent Partner
It is no secret that decoys are very effective tools for turkey hunting.  But the run-and-gun hunter can’t be loaded down with many of the common, multiple-bird decoy setups.  I used to use decoy setups that were too complicated, and I also used decoys that were too bulky or difficult to setup.  When I am going mobile I like to take one inflatable hen decoy.  This decoys packs down to the size of my fist, disappears in my pack, but is ready to be deployed with just a few breaths. (decoy techniques)


Decoys shouldn’t hold you back; but instead allow easy movement through terrain and quick setup.

Walk With Your Eyes
We all know that turkey have amazing vision, so why shouldn’t we enhance ours?  I used to think that lugging around binoculars would be a waste of time since turkey hunting is all about close encounters, and far off birds can be located with calls.  Boy was I wrong!  On multiple occasions I have been able to locate far-off birds, get in on them silently, and then get them fired up with close-in calls when they least expect it. (turkey forum)


Don’t underestimate the benefit of good “glass” when bowhunting turkeys.

Being aggressive with turkeys is a gamble.  And just like a casino game, you are probably going to lose more than you win.  But the excitement and challenge of getting in close is worth it!  Next time you are hung up in your blind and things aren’t happening, go make something happen.  Like me, you’ll probably learn a lot of lessons and have a ton of fun along the way.

Mark Huelsing
I am a husband to one very patient and understanding woman, a father to two amazing kids, a hunter, an explorer, a wanderer, a thinker and a writer. You can follow Mark's adventures at soleadventure.com
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