Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - 4

Denny Gulvas, of DuBois, is crazy about turkeys. There aren't many days on the calendar
when he's not in the woods, studying them, filming them, interacting with them - often sneaking
beneath a roost in the dark, then enjoying whatever action unfolds. And he's a huge supporter
of turkey hunting.
But it's been since 1984 that Gulvas last
turned a shotgun on a turkey.
Gulvas, whose 1985 "Spring Gobbler Hunting" was one of the first turkey-hunting videos
ever released, began filming turkeys in 1983 and
quickly found it a challenge to get the footage he
wanted because the birds usually came no closer
than 30 yards.
Wanting to bring turkeys closer, Gulvas
decided he'd never kill another turkey if they'd
just start to cooperate for the camera. And -
somehow - they seemed to know. Like magic,
within three months of making his pact, Gulvas
had footage of a dozen or more gobblers that
came within maybe 12 feet of the camera lens.

Eventually, during the filming of another
video, "Challenging Pressured Gobblers," Gulvas
killed a gobbler with a bow, which he said left
him with mixed feelings. But he hasn't shot a
turkey since; he's only spent nearly every day
among them.
Gulvas said he's come to appreciate how
much more can be learned from filming turkeys
compared to hunting them.
When trying to cash in on a hunting opportunity, the focus is so much different, he said.
You miss a lot of the details, the turkey's body
language, how it reacts. But on film, it's all there.
"For me the camera is everything," Gulvas
said. "I've been able to learn so much reviewing
and reliving the moment over and over again."
That's important because there's never any
telling what a turkey's going to do. Gulvas said
the turkeys, themselves, don't know.
"Their unpredictability is what makes them
so unique," he said. It's one of the reasons why
he's more obsessed with turkeys now than ever.

that day, Gulvas said.
It's another example, he said, of how
turkeys aren't all that different from
people. Some days, they feel better than
others. They might be feeling strong and
spry, or a just a bit off. They might feel
like today's their day to rise up and win
a challenge, or not feel up to a fight. Or
they might just be in a bad mood and easy
to irritate.
And if any of these factors leads to a
fight or influences the outcome, an individual gobbler might rise or fall in the
pecking order because of it.
While turkeys frequently spar in testing their dominance, hard-hitting knockdown-drag-outs rarely are witnessed,
Gulvas said. But when they happen, they
are savage and sometimes gruesome
contests where the competing birds' heads
intertwine like snakes, and they strike
viciously at each other's faces and try to
rip apart whatever they grab hold of. Spurs
are put to work, sometimes as a bird takes
to the air and lands with a two-legged kick
to the chest.

The commotion usually attracts its
share of onlookers, which is why the
sounds mimicking turkey fights - whether
they be the slapping of wings or the rapidfire, aggressive purrs typically sent out
by fighting gobblers, can be effective in
bringing spring birds into gun range, and
have been a recent addition at turkeycalling contests, Gulvas said.

4

DAILY DOMINANCE
The pecking order among turkeys in
an area could have big impacts on turkey
activity on any given day, Gulvas said.
Have you ever spent the better part of
the morning in the turkey woods, waiting
for hours to hear the first gobble, and when
it finally comes, every gobbler in the area
seems to flip the switch?
"I believe there are gobblers that actually dictate what's going on," he said.
In other words, Gulvas said, the pecking order might be so tight that subordinate gobblers won't call until the boss
does. A dominant hen can have a similar
effect on calling by other birds, which



Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020

Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - 2
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - 4
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - 5
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Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - April 2020 - Cover4
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