Running and gunning is one of the most exciting ways to pursue North Americas largest game bird; Meleagrisgallopavo (the Wild Turkey). It is a slang term for the technique of covering a lot of ground in a relatively short period of time; stopping only periodically to call and listen for a response. The practice of running and gunning is generally a mid-morning tactic which is used after early morning efforts turned out to be fruitless. This technique requires a good bit of stamina and an intimate knowledge of the land on the hunters part. One big knock against running and gunning is that it can put undue stress on birds, educating them to the presence of hunters, and making them very hard to hunt in the future.
Running and Gunning requires a fair piece of land, and if you are hunting public land, you may run into other turkey hunters who are employing your same tactics. The thrill of hunting turkeys in this manor can be at the top of all outdoor experiences when everything comes together. Striking birds on the move and closing the deal with a responsive Long Beard is what it's all about.
To be successful at running and gunning for wild turkeys, you must become proficient at calling but, the type of call in which you use is up to you. Also, there are many different styles of calls and each has a particular purpose; from the easy to use box call to the diaphragm or mouth call. In fact, the sheer number and variety of turkey calls can be overwhelming and truthfully redundant in some cases and thus, having a working knowledge of a few calls, and practice with the calls that you are comfortable with is all you really need. Personally, I prefer to use a mouth call because it leaves my hands free to glass or perform other tasks and, if I get a response from a Long Beard, I don't have to worry as much about movement. Thus, I use my call sparingly; making sure not to produce a Repetitive Cadence. In fact, a lot of hunters get into a rut by making the same call and using the exact same cadence over and over again. But, using the same cadence during your calling sequence is a subliminal action that we have all fallen victim too. However, while the calls of a real hen may sound repetitive, there are subtle differences that you must pick up on and learn to imitate.
So, by using the high ground to your advantage as you travel and calling sparingly while listening for any signs of old Mr Long Beard, you should have success this spring. But, remember that once you have located a bird, be ready, because they can close the distance on you quickly. Therefore, it is wise to pick a good place of concealment before you start calling. That way you don't have to scramble if you get a response. Then, once you lay eyes on your target, don't move and call very little or not at all. The turkey knows exactly where the calls from your earlier sequences are coming from and his curiosity and drive to find a new hen for his harem will guide him into gun range. The rest, as Jeff Daniels said in Escanaba n da Moonlight, You put your finger on the trigger, take a deep breath to steady your nerves, and-BOOM!