Well guys we all know the killing part of deer season is done and we must sit and re-read articles from magazines that have been stacked in the bathroom for years about someone else “getting lucky” or just being a better hunter than ourselves in most cases.
Other than that we have a few limited chances to get outdoors. Shed hunting provides a great opportunity, and then comes along the annual crappie spawn where we all transform into fishermen “hunters of the slabs”. And then it's the next chance for us to get out and collect something for the freezer or the taxidermist. That without a doubt our significant others will hate for the season, our “affair” with Turkeys! How many chances did you get to watch hens, jakes and long-beards at your feeders or flocks simply strolling through the woods during deer season only to look them over for a moment and then snap back into “deer hunting mode?!” Well the chances to get out there and trick one of those long-beards into thinking you’re a hen with the runway lights on for love are coming up!
But first you have to know where the birds are, how are you going to get that far? Don't assume the places you seen turkeys this fall will hold them this spring. Depending on the subspecies’ you hunt their fall/winter and spring ranges can be dramatically different. As for the birds I get the chance to hunt in south eastern Oklahoma predominantly eastern wild turkeys. Their range can change up to 2-3 miles. However occasionally they may not change at all as with all subspecies. I also get the chance to chase North Central Oklahoma Rio's as well as a few western Rios in the state. These birds (Rios’) some years I have observed moving as far as ten miles and some years only a hundred yards. What makes these birds move in the way they do? This is debatable, environmental (rain fall or lack thereof) conditions from good roosting, feeding, and nesting grounds to predators these can all move the location of your flock and can even break it into several small distinctly different flocks covering a large amount of ground. This is most likely true for all subspecies.
Once you have a decent idea as to where a few birds may be spending their time. And you know there is a bird you would like to harvest in this flock it's simply a waiting game. You will have to wait for the night or two before season and go out with locator calls and find out just where your bird likes to spend the night, you may also want to take into account the number of hens he has around him as well as jakes. The hens are your main competition, if you are hunting public lands other hunters come next. If you go two nights before season starts you better plan on making another trip the next night, because there is nothing worse than thinking you know the exact tree your thanksgiving bird will be in on opening day and go in and set up semi blindly according to your previous knowledge only to have him gobbling his head off three hundred yards away across rough terrain with twenty hens. Your opening morning is already done.
When you go out to locate your bird there are hundreds of ways to entice a shock gobble, I have used everything from a “gobble shaker” that sounds like a gobbling bird to the conventional owl call in a cadence that sounds eerily like “who cooks for you who cooks for you all” to blasting away obnoxiously on a crow call with several caw, caw, caws. To a coyote howler or peacock scream or even a loud honk from an old goose call still rolling around your truck cab. Anything that is loud that will “shock” the boss tom into gobbling trying to sound like the biggest thing in that area. I’ve even gave up and headed to the truck and as I climbed in and slammed the truck door and gobbles began to sound off from a previously deemed bird-less area.
From that point on you will have to direct your own season I could write a thousand pages on possible setups calling techniques, loads and shot gun styles but once you hear that first shock gobble your season is in your hands.
“May god, guide your bullets and arrows making them fly true.”