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oldbirddogman

Turkey Hunting Tips Part 1

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oldbirddogman

While I was sitting in the woods this morning trying to help an old man who can no longer hunt by himself kill a turkey, a thought came to me.

It dawned on me just how lucky people are that live in places with lots of turkeys, long seasons, liberal bag limits, and plenty of time to hunt. Ever since I started turkey hunting in the mid '50s, the season , combined spring and fall, where I live in Alabama, has ranged from 91 to 103 days. A fellow can do a lot of hunting in that amount of time.

I am aware that UPLAND JOURNAL's primary focus is upland birds. Mine too, at times, but I have noticed quite a few turkey hunters popping up here now and then, especially since bird season is out and turkey season in, or approaching.

I know that many of ya'll have short seasons, or have to draw for permits where you live. Your turkey hunting time is, no doubt, limited compared to turkey hunters down here.

I thought, if it's not being too presumptious of me, and if Brad doen't mind, for the next few weeks, when I have time, I'll try to post a short series of tips, suggestions really, about turkey hunting that might be helpful to some of ya'll. And I wish that some of you folks that know a lot about grouse hunting, or woodcock, or pheasants, or desert quail, etc. would consider doing the same thing this summer. There is a lot about those birds I'd like to know.

I need to add here that time doesn't allow me to explain everything I say in detail. If I am unclear,  or you want more information, ask a question. And keep in mind that nothing I say is the absolute gospel. There are many exceptions, variables, and mitigating circumstances in the turkey woods. What I tell you here is simply the high-percentage thing to do as determined by personal experience garnered from many years in the woods. Kindly trust me, if you can.

General turkey hunting tips:

1. Get in the woods early and in the dark. If you run late and have to hurry, you will hunt in a rush all day. This causes poor decisions and silly mistakes. Sit quietly when you get to your listening place. Relax. Be thankful you are there, out there, one more time.

2.Let the woods wake up around you. Never rush things. In the turkey woods, you must learn to LET things happen. Do not try to FORCE them to happen.

3.Never panic. Things frequently go wrong in the turkey woods. When something fouls up your chance at a turkey, don't get mad and go home. Just sit down and relax a while. Think things out. Then go again.

4. Never hunt with your bottom lip stuck out. If all your buddies are shooting big 'uns everyday, and you can't get around a turkey, it does not matter. If it does, you have forgotten what you are hunting for. All luck changes, sometimes very quickly. Just hang in there. Keep plugging away. Your time will come.

5.There is one thought that you must erase from your mind if you want to consistently kill turkeys. This thought saves more turkey's lives than any other. It is this - "He's gone." If those words come to your mind whenever a gobbling turkey hushes, you will be dissappointed often. A hushed turkey may, indeed, be gone. He may be standing still trying to make up his mind. Or, he may be on the way to you. Many turkeys hush when they walk in. You must always ASSUME that a silent turkey is on the way.

6.Remember that the one place in the world you should never go when a turkey hushes is toward where you last heard him. You will scare the turkey nearly everytime, and scared turkeys often don't gobble tomorrow. Go the other direction. He will  be there tomorrow.

7. Set some realistic goals. Mine are, every day I hunt, in order of priority; 1. To enjoy the woods. 2.To learn something that will make me a better turkey hunter. 3.To kill, or help someone kill, a turkey.

Next time, we get into specifics.

Questions. Comments.

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Mike Foley

Good advice, beginning to end.  I was out scouting this morning.  Heard, but didn't see, two groups in thick cover.  When I got home, there were 13 birds (three gobblers) at the bottom of my driveway, headed toward the pond.  

The fever's on.

The season's still a month away, but the weather's finally good, and getting out in the woods is my reward for getting through a miserable winter.

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Brad Eden

Good idea OLDBIRDDOGMAN. The one consolation to once again not drawing a Maine Spring tag is the fun in helping other lucky permit holders get their bird. I think that is the thing that stands out most about turkey hunting as compared to other hunting; how involved and exciting it can be for a person in the pre-hunt, hunt and post hunt without ever pulled the trigger.

Saw a nice flock yesterday with 3-4 mature gobblers in full strut in Swanville Maine. Snow on the ground isn't putting a damper on those Toms desires. :p

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GANGGREEN

oldbirddogman, those sound like the tips of a man that's been chasing turkeys for a very long time.  I've intuitively known all of those things for a rather long time but being a relatively young guy with pretty good wheels, I seem to forget them too frequently.  

While I don't live in an area with long seasons or high bag limits, I am fortunate to live in an area that's polluted with turkeys and God knows that I enjoy it.  It's not unusual for me to see 200 turkeys or more in a day's time during my travels in late winter/early spring and again in late summer/early fall.  At this time of year I see turkeys in my back field literally every single day and there are almost always numerous strutting/gobbling toms amongst them.  Am I a lucky guy or what?

One personal tip that I might add for the novice turkey hunters would be to call less frequently rather than more so, especially if your calling leaves something to be desired.  It's true that sometimes turkeys don't pay much attention to tone (although they do pay alot of attention to the rhythm of your calls) you'll scare more birds than not by yacking at them too much.  That being said, there's a time and a place to lay it on 'em too, you've just got to learn when through experience.

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oldbirddogman

GANGGREEN,

You do sound like a awful lucky fellow to me.

As to your advice about calling, you're dead on there friend. We'll get to calling after we get the more important stuff out of the way.

All of ya'll please be aware that I'm just skimming the high points here. Fill in any little thing that you see that I left out. There will be much.

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Briarscratch

Thanks, can I have seconds now?

I think I've broken almost everyone of those rules in the last two (birdless) seasons.  Your help is much appreciated.

'Scratch

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adknimrod
Keep it coming, this is the first year I can hunt in my zones for spring birds. I can get 2. I know where the big flocks are but they are safe from the gun, but last fall we were throwing up birds sometimes in my Grouse covers. ? Do they roost in the same areas or do they move around? This is new to me. We have waited along time for Turkeys to show. 12 years ago I contacted the state about what I could do to attract them to my farm, they told me they can't live up your way. Winters too hard, well after watching them move up for the last 7 years we finally have a spring season. Thanks for sharing your Knowledge not just showing it. ED

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oldbirddogman

adknimrod,

You ask if turkeys roost in the same place, or do they move around.

I'm going to have to give you a sorry answer here.

As in most things pertaining to turkeys, it varies.

I will make some general statements. Most turkeys in the eastern part of the country, live their lives within a section of land, certainly less than a 1000 acres. Occasionally, in times of hard and soft mast failures, flooding, clear-cutting on large scale, etc., a drove will move off. Some return when conditions become favorable. Some don't.

I know of some droves here that I can put my finger on almost any night at roost time. They use the same place day after day, year after year. Some western birds tend to be this way too. Most droves here roost in 3 or 4 favored places. Here today, over there tomorrow, seldom in the same place two days in a row. Some bunches wander, and seem to never establish any roosting places or pattern. Merriam turkeys out west are especially bad in this regard, it seems to me.

Now, if I mis-read your post and you really want to know if a certain drove will stay in an certain area, or just wander through, I have no good answer here either, except to say some do and some don't. I know of many, no most, droves that live in a definate area all year around. The area provides them with both summer and winter foods, nesting cover, water, though that not too great a factor in the East, insects for poults, etc.

Other droves may live in one place during the winter, usually where there is plenty of hard mast, then move completely off

when spring comes.

I cannot tell you exactly what a newly stocked drove will do, but it is likely it will eventually settle in a place that meets all its needs.

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KCShlly

OBDM

Doug, I can almost hear you whispering over my shoulder!

Thanks.

I'm reading your book, too, which helps.

If luck is with me, I'll get a leftover permit this Saturday in the over-the-counter sale.

Kevin

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oldbirddogman

Hey, Creek,

If you weren't a good caller you wouldn't be calling in all those pesky old hunters. You just need to miss a note every now and then so's they can tell you ain't the real thing.

Tell you what I do, or I should say, did, because I don't hunt on public land anymore since my hearing is shot. I can't tell when anybody is around anymore. But when other hunters showed up calling to the same turkey I was after, I'd put my caller in my pocket and just listened. I tried to keep myself lined up, as best I could, straight on the other side of the turkey from the other fellows. I would listen to them call, and I could tell when they were getting in too big a hurry and putting too much pressure on the turkey. Sometimes they'd call and move closer, and move again. And before too long, they'd hear a gunshot, 'cause I'd done killed the turkey they'd pushed my way.

But now I just have to hunt on private land where's I don't have that kind of help. 'Have to call 'em up all by myself.

Be careful. I've been shot at a time or two, too.

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Uplander

Hey KC, hurry up with that book, will ya.  I’m awaiting my turn!

OBDM, you really need to come to Massachusetts.  I have my eye on a drove of about 20 turkeys that won’t let me get within 50 yards….  I promise I won’t let Teddy anywhere near you!

--------------------

For sheer skill and daring in hurtling full speed through thick cover, no other upland bird deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as ruffed grouse.

**Burton L. Spiller**

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Brad Eden

I've "pinned" this thread to keep it at the top for awhile. :)

PS I just bought a box call from Doug (OLDBIRDDOGMAN) and a few mouth diapragm calls. (I also just sent Doug's Custom Box Call that was auctioned off to the lucky bidder this morning)

I got the new calls by UPS yesterday and have been driving the dogs and family crazy "practicing." First class Box Caller.

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tjk1952
I leave for the Flint Hills of Kansas next month. It really helps to extend the season to hunt in more than one state. I live and hunt in W. Michigan but have been going to Kansas for the last 6 years for an early turkey fix. It is such a different experiance in Kansas with the birds roosting in the creek bottoms. The other big difference is often you can see the birds coming for hundreds of yards. That really gets the heart beating. The year before last I filled my permits with and extra day left and went out with a camera. I got some great pictures of a bird coming in and ran out of film when the bird was still 40 yards out, he then came to within 15 yards and I could hear his feathers pop when he went into a strut. Hope you all have a good season.

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Michael Stenstrom
Some great tips. I have a friend who has gotten his first permit this year.  I advised him to read through these tips to start out his turkey hunting carreer properly.  (of course I will go along to help him, not that that will be any help)

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Michael Stenstrom
Oops, I was going to add from my experience with birds and roosting.  Within a couple of miles of each other I have a couple of different droves (first I have heard of this term).  One group will roost in the sme group of trees every night.  The other varies its roost considerably.  So much so that I can never even count on finding the birds in the same tree over a two week period.  There are adnvantages and disadvantages to each.  By the way I heard my first gobble in the mid-coast this morning.

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