Turkey Hunting Do's and Dont's
The Textbook Hunt:
The most effective way of locating birds in the morning is the owl hoot. A lot of times a hot bird will gobble on the roost without a locator call. Any decent owl call will work, even using your mouth. When a bird gobbles on the roost move towards him with the cover of darkness. You want to get close but not too close. Make sure he does not see you or hear you moving through the woods. Stay out of sight of the bird and set up silent. Just before fly down time I like to let out one soft tree yelp. No other calling is needed until he flies down. If he gobbles at the tree yelp I shut up. A tree yelp is a very soft 5-7 note yelp where he can barely hear you.
I do not make another sound until I know the bird is on the ground. If I get too aggressive in the morning, the gobbler would stay in the tree and expect the hen to walk to him, however if he still thinks the hen is in the tree he may just come to you.
After he hits the ground I call again. This time, a louder yelp (kee-kee) in early season or even a cut at a hot bird if he is gobbling hard. If he responds again I shut up. From here on out it's all about keeping him on line. He will only gobble if you entice him or if he is unsure of where you are. Simple clucks, purrs, or whines will seal the deal 99% of the time.
Less is more when it comes to calling.
Afternoon Birds- If i am unsuccessful in the morning, or I get to the woods late I have a tactic that has proven to be effective over the years. On windy days I use a box call, on most days i cycle through my different tone mouth calls. I walk, and walk, and walk, I have walked over 12 miles in one day looking for a bird that is hot enough to work. I let out three yelps every couple hundred yards. If i get a gobble, I yelp again. If he answers I set up because he is coming. After this point I make sure there are no fences or creeks in the turkeys path to me. Again with the calling, less is more. Personally I don't use any decoys in woods. It only gives a reason for the bird to spook. Instead, the terrain can be used to get a shot on a weary gobbler. Thick patches and scratching with my hands to close the gap work very well if need be.
Spot and Stalk- Alot of times you will know the areas the birds are. Some days they will not respond no matter what you do. I have killed several birds by seeing them before they see me. I walk very slow and quiet in the woods looking for them. Gobblers are very large and dark and stand out well in the woods or in fields. If you walk slow and quiet enough you will find them. Then I like to soft call at them. Sometimes this will spook a weary bird, other times they will come right in. The majority of the birds I find this was will keep about their business. I have killed several birds by taking my boots of and sneaking up to them or even belly crawling towards them. A very exciting way to get the job done on public land.
Strut Zones-When a bird is patterned during the season they will have specific area they like to go after the hens leave them late morning. A lot of times you can see a figure 8 pattern on the ground with some feathers around and scratch marks. They like swamps, ridges, and even small openings to strut in. When I locate a bird in his strut zone I will come back the next day and set up a few decoys in the area. An Avian-X strutter decoy works well in this situation with a hen or a jake mixed in. Often times calling is not even needed when hunting with decoys.
Avian X Merriam Turkey Decoys at Hunting and Fishing DepotClose combat-If you find a mature gobbler in a field that doesn't want to work, try a Mojo Stalker or Primos Chicken on a Stick and crawl at the bird. If he is the dominant thunder Chicken in the area he will be looking for a fight and come running. Use a modified choke because he will be close.
Turkey hunting is an art and all I can do is tell you my experiences. You will have to learn on your own, learn the specific clucks and calls for situations. These birds are very weary, especially on public land. I have ruined many hunts but I have learned from my experiences. A few other tips I will leave you with.
- Hunt with a partner. Older birds will come in silent, from behind, or stay just out of shotgun range. Hunting with a partner will help you get the job done.
- Don't be afraid to move back away from the bird. If he thinks you are moving away he will close the distance.
- Be careful when using gobbler decoys and even making the gobbler call as it will call in nearby hunters as well as birds.
- Less calling is more. Late season on public land all I do is cluck, purr, and whine.
- Don’t be afraid to hunt all day. Hens leave gobblers throughout the day and they will get fired up.
- Try different sounding calls, what sounds good to you may not sound good to the turkeys that day. Rotate different diaphragms or slate call strikers. I always have my turkey vest loaded with different cut diaphragms and different strikers from Legacy Calls. The Moonshine Series Keg Thumper with the Purple Heart Striker is my go to pot call and the Legacy Calls Fatal Attraction diaphragm mouth call or the Lone Hen 2.5 are my go to mouth calls.
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