Once the calling starts, the real game of wits begins.
Hunters fortunate enough to hook up with 2-year-old toms have it relatively easy. Birds that age are only just beginning to understand the mating process, and they haven't yet gathered enough experience to be fully aware of hunters' tricks.
Three- and 4-year-old gobblers are a different story. Gobblers old enough to be considered "boss birds" or "longbeards" have almost certainly heard hunters' calls before, and have almost certainly been spooked by inappropriate calling, excessive movement, poor decoy deployment, bonehead blunders and worse. To say they become cautious would be a gross understatement. "Freakishly paranoid" would describe it much better.
Well, maybe not. Paranoia is a human attribute, the product of a large and highly developed brain. Turkeys' brains are about the size of a walnut, so to call a turkey highly intelligent would be gilding the lily more than a little.
It's more accurate to say that turkeys have exceptionally strong survival instincts aided by an almost supernatural ability to see and hear what's going on around them.
Their eyes are located on opposite sides of their heads, so they have almost a 270-degree field of view. Like most birds, they have exceptionally keen vision and seem to notice even the slightest of movements.
Their ears can detect and pinpoint sounds from up to a mile away. Hunters who walk loudly through the woods, rattle the contents of their turkey vests or chat on their cellphones most likely will go home empty-handed.
If all this sounds discouraging, it truly isn't meant to be. Keep in mind that thousands of hunters each year manage to play the game well enough to bring home a bird or two.
There's no way to know for sure, but I'd bet that as kids, most of those hunters played cowboys and Indians. I'd bet they were good at it, too.