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OUTDOOR TRUTHS: Pros & Cons Of Early Hunting

By Gary Miller

As in any opening season, there are pros and cons concerning the effectiveness of early hunting. Turkey season is no different. Because they have had no hunter pressure, it can be somewhat easy to set up very close to their roost and call an unsuspecting gobbler into firing range. On the other hand, there is what is known as a tom being henned up. Henned up means a tom is surrounded by hens and is very unlikely to leave them in order to come to where a hunter is set up. This happens a lot in the early season. It’s the old adage, a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. And for a big gobbler, he is thinking, “Ten hens next to me are better than two on the other end of the field.” There have been many hunters who have had to watch a field of turkeys fifty yards out of range simply because they were content to stay where they were.

Another way a gobbler gets henned up is when a lone hen actively works to keep it from leaving her. In fact, she will purposefully lead her man in a completely different direction – away from you. I’m not sure if she senses danger or what, but I know she just doesn’t like what seems to be transpiring.

There have been many times in my life where my wife has led me away from a situation that just didn’t seem right to her. For me, I was the naïve and gullible guy who thought she was crazy and overprotective. I thought the sound of other hens where just honest cries for help. Some of them were but others were a subtle trap. The problem was that I would have never seen the trap if it were not for my wife’s keen intuition and outside perspective. Now men, I know that most women are eager to admit that we men are clueless and naïve. They will readily brag that without them we would do stupid things because we are too trusting of all people and situations. Well, after many, many years of marriage I am finally admitting they are right. And you need to as well. My only consolation in writing this is knowing that my wife will probably not be reading this particular article and therefore admitting she is right will not be as hard to swallow. The good thing however when it comes to something as important as this, is that I still win even when she is right.

Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at

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