Turkey Hunting Tips: The Basics

Steve Johnson

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  • Prostaff Member Steve Johnson

Know Your Bird: The first thing I recommend is getting to know what the gobblers are normally doing on a day to day basis, this means spending a few days in the woods before the season starts. This acquired information comes in handy when your early morning hunt gets skunked.

It's important to know what the birds are doing after flying down every morning. This can help you pattern the bird if you are not able to get him to fly down into your lap right off the roost or if he has a harem of hens at his beck and call. With this information at your disposal, you are able to follow a particular bird around all morning and predict his next move. If the gobbler has a certain clearing he shows up at 8:30 every morning to strut with hens, you can get there before he does and wait him out just like a whitetail.

Know When to Shut Up:
So you have a bird that is gobbling at everything you are throwing at him, he sometimes doubles and even triple gobbles at your yelps, cuts and clucks. Man, you’re working that turkey now! Or are you? Calling too much can make even the hottest birds hang up; they will stop and strut in a certain area just waiting for you to close the rest of the distance. What you want to do is call just enough to keep the gobbler's interest so he keeps coming your way. You want to play hard to get. Yes, it's always fun to have a bird hammer your call but too much of this can make for a long morning; you often don't get second chances on workable longbeards. After a few encounters, you will be able to tell what a particular gobbler likes to hear and how much you should give him. When the turkey is inside 75 yards, it's time to take a deep breath and remember to stay cool. By now you can probably hear the bird drumming and his thunderous gobbles seem to shake the woods and rattle your brain, this when a bird is most apt to hang up. If you can see the bird and he is still coming your way, do not call. Calling now can make the bird stop, pinpoint your location and wait for the “hen” to show herself. If you must call, only do it soft and when his head goes behind a tree or some other obstruction so his is not able to pick out your location.

The Foolproof Set-Up:
Location, location, location! Even the best callers won't bring the bird home if their set up stinks. Here's what to look for when setting up on a spring gobbler. The gobbler that is coming to your calls is going to want a fairly open area to travel through so he can strut and see well in the direction of your calls. Avoid areas with tangles and thick brush; this gives him just once more reason to hang up outside your shotgun or bow's range. Place a decoy or two in the most visible open area for some eye candy as he makes his way in. In terms of elevation, you should always try and stay above or on the same level as the gobbler, for whatever reason it's much easier to coax a gobbler up a hill than down a hill. Think about that for a second, if a turkey is above your set up, he can just look down on upon you from a vantage point and inspect if from a distance, if something is out of place or just doesn't look right, he’ll surely pick it out and leave. Lastly, pick a good tree, the tree you pick can make or break you hunt. The best trees to look for are wider than your shoulders and give you protection from behind if a gobbler slips in from the back door or some other hunter foolishly decides to stalk your calls while white-knuckling his/her shotgun. The tree you decide to sit against could very well save your life! One more thing, always point your off shoulder towards the turkey while waiting for him to come. This gives you freedom of motion to swing to gun left to right and around obstructions so that you can stay on target. The best turkey hunters stay with the bird the whole time as he comes in, so if something does go wrong, they don't have to move at a bad time and possibly spook the bird off.

With this information, I can nearly guarantee more birds in your lap and a whole lot more fun had this spring. Good luck and hunt safe!

Posted by Steve Johnson under Turkey Hunting on March 10, 10 12:55 PM | Permalink

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