Understanding Pecking Order: How to Find the Dominant Gobbler

When you are out turkey hunting you want to shoot the oldest and biggest gobbler on the property. The problem with this is that it can be difficult to determine which gobbler fits this profile until he is in your hand. If you want to ensure that you take home the prize dominant tom this season, it is imperative that you learn how to quickly and effectively spot him. Thankfully there are some clues that a hunter can use when turkey hunting to pick out the dominant gobbler from the group and determine the pecking order of the pack.

Dominant TuRkey

The majority of the time, the oldest and biggest gobbler will also be the dominant gobbler in the flock. They can be identified by the manner in which they act. When you are looking at a small group of turkeys they are approaching a hen or coming to your call, look for the one which does all or most of the strutting and has a long bear. That is more often than not the dominant bird.

Dominant Turkeys and Strutting

As you are turkey hunting and looking for the dominant bird, you will see other gobblers strut around the dominant one, but pay careful attention because while they do strut around him, their strut will not be as fully fanned nor will it be as long. The dominant turkey may not come out of the strut at any time; often his head is pulled closely to his body and his fan will stick straight up.

There are other clues you can use to identify pecking order when turkey hunting. You can watch for attacks that come from the dominant tom to others in the group. The biggest one may turn toward other turkeys and cause them to break strut or move off. The biggest one may also chase others away.

Another useful tip during turkey hunting is to watch gobbling behavior. Gobbling behavior can give hunters clues as to the pecking order. Most of the time, the first turkey that gobbles in the morning is the dominant bird. There are a few times when he may not gobble first, but you can continue monitoring the group and you will notice that if this is the case, other gobbling turkeys will become silent immediately when the dominant bird finally does make a sound.

You can also watch the hens for other clues. The hens may yelp back with increased excitement toward the dominant bird. By paying close attention to the behavior of the turkeys, you can bring home the prize winning bird from your turkey hunting.