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oldbirddogman

Turkey Hunting Tips     Part 2

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oldbirddogman

I am surprised. There may be more turkey hunters here than I thought. I don't want to be late with this stuff. I don't know when ya'll season opens . Some may already be in. It may be  a month in other places. Or, ya'll may be like the old boys in Arkansas. Their season comes in any day they hear one gobble.

'No use testifying after the verdict is in. Let's go.

SETTING UP

1. Important stuff first. If you learn how to recognize places a turkey is likely to go, or I should say, come to, you can kill turkeys regardless of how inept you are with a turkey caller. On the other hand, you can be some kind of World Champion

caller, and if you chose calling places that a turkey won't come to, you're not going to call up any. SITE SELECTION is more important than calling skills. Or, anything else.

2. Daybreak is cracking. A turkey gobbles in the distance. What is your next step? Get to him as quickly as possible, you say? On public land, that might be a good idea. In general though, when other hunters aren't around, your next step should be to wait until he gobbles again, so you are SURE you know where he is, then wait some more to give any closer turkeys time to gobble. I always hated to get 'way over yonder and hear one gobble right back where I came from. The FIRST turkey may not be the ONLY turkey. Anyway, a early-gobbling turkey usually sits in his tree about 20 minutes before flying down. Time a few and see. You can walk a mile in 20 minutes in average terrain. You can't shoot him until he flies down anyhow. Don't be is such a big hurry.

3. If several turkeys gobbled, chose the one to go to that is in the easiest place to get to, is gobbling the most frequently, and is gobbling on his own. A TURKEY THAT IS GOBBLING ON HIS OWN IS IN A BETTER MOOD TO DIE THAN ONE YOU HAVE TO MAKE GOBBLE.

4.When going to the turkey, stay in the road as long as possible. It is quieter, and you can travel more easily there, plus faster, if getting there in a hurry is required. It is always good to select a listening place that is at a fork in the road, or better, a crossroads. Now you can go in several directions quietly. (We're talking about old wood's roads here.)

5. Considerations to be made while on the way to the turkey: If it is dry underfoot, you have to go slower and stop sooner. If there is little foliage on the trees, you have to stop sooner, the turkey can see a long ways from his roost.If the wind is blowing, the turkey is CLOSER than he sounds like. You have to stop sooner. If another person is with you, you may have to stop sooner. (By this I mean stopping before you get to the ideal calling distance.)

6.Ideal calling distance, in most places, is around 100 to 125 yards. If there is ANY chance the turkey may see you, stop at a longer distance, say 150-175 yards and wait until the turkey flies down. He can't see nearly as far when he's on the ground. And you can alway move closer later.

7. THE SINGLE DUMBEST THING A TURKEY HUNTER CAN DO IS SCARE A GOBBLING TURKEY OFF THE ROOST BY TRYING TO GET TOO CLOSE. If you do, you have, most likely, just ruined your chances with that turkey that day.

8. I'm sure all ya'll know how to pick a tree to sit by when you get into calling range. I'll not get into that. I will suggest that you select an average-size tree, not necessarily the biggest one, or one that stands out from the rest. In other words, not the FIRST one you looked at, because that will be the first one the turkey will look at.

9. In the average woods, you want to be able to see about 50 yards. The turkey won't have far to walk to be in dead gun range. If possible, you want to sit with no obstacles between you and the turkey to your front, and some obstacle at your back. Something like an old fense, gully, or downed tree behind you may help keep a gobbler that circles from approaching from a bad angle.

10. Talking about angles: If you set up beside a road - which is a good place because turkeys like to walk roads  too - a right-handed shooter, (gun against right shoulder) should always sit on the RIGHT SIDE of the road at about a 45 degree angle to the road. He can now shoot any turkey coming up the road, and still turn and shoot 'way around to his left down the road too. A left handed shooter sits on the LEFT. Think about this and you will understand the reason why.

Dad gum. This is getting too long. I'm going to have to cut this topic into 2 parts.

Questions. Comments.

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Rex Hoppie

Doug,

I love what you are doing here.  I am the worlds worst Turkey hunter when it comes to estimating distances from a gobbling turkey, in a tree or on the ground.  I have poor directional hearing ability for one thing.  Any thoughts and ideas about how to estimate these ranges? ???  :D

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Ben Hong
Doug, I don't know turkey hunting from tom or dick. But I am going to print these two postings of yours and keep it for future reference...just in case  turkeys expand up to New Brunswick in my lifetime.  Why don't you come up to the north woods, spend some time with us hunting woodcock and grouse and then write a definitive manual on hunting these birds? With your insight and perspicacity on any topic, I guaRONtee that it would be a big selling "textbook". Cheers.

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Briarscratch

I've read my share of turkey how-to books and magazines and some have done a decent job of telling me the basic "what" and "how" stuff. But NONE of them tell you the "why".

OBDM, thanks for taking the time to write down here what must have taken you years of experience to learn.

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oldbirddogman

Rex,

I am very sorry to hear about your hearing problems. I suspect you are hearing better out of one ear than you are the other. That sometimes causes problems with determining direction. To set up on turkeys without too much risk of overrunning one, you sure need to be able to determine both distance and direction. I don't have a solution for your problem. 'Just go slow and do the best you can. You may eventually have to quit hunting gobbling turkeys and start hunting from a stationary position. That solves set-up problems. I'll try to discuss that a little before finishing this series.

Ben,

I still plan on coming up your way this fall, hopefully during hunting season, so I can see how ya'll hunt up there. As far as writing a book on woodcock or grouse, that's for you folks to do. I have hunted them a little, but ya'll's knowledge so far surpasses mine -- I would be embarrassed to even attempt such a project.

Briarscratch,

Thanks. I regret that time and space really doesn't allow me to get into the WHY of much of this stuff. If there is something that I am expecially vague about that you want to know, ask, and I'll do the best I can.

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Rick Hall

Haven't turkey hunted at all for the last few years, as it now requires at least a couple hours travel time.  There was, however, a time when I scouted, photographed and hunted the big birds virtually every day March through early June.  Just flat ate up with 'em.  

Having moved from where they were plentiful to where they're not, I've somehow lost interest over time.  Even quit my spring runs to hunt with friends in Crenshaw County, Alabama.  Wonderful people, beautiful country and plentiful birds.  But it just wasn't the turkey hunting I once loved.  Regardless of who called or shot the birds, someone else had done the real scouting, and I was poaching on their turf rather than hunting places and birds I felt I'd made my own.  Still mighty nice, just not the experience that once held me so tightly in its grip.

Nonetheless, Doug is giving me a touch of the old, familiar spring fever here, and I'm most thankful to him.  

Rex - It might be something you and everyone else here is  already doing, but I had to be shown the hearing aid afforded by cupping one's ears with his hands.  Helps much more than some might think, both with volume and direction.  Has made me wish I had a whitetail's huge, rotating ear cones to help home in on gobbling birds (or a point beeper).  

Doug - I in no way claim your expertise, but there's much here I'm tempted to comment on, no debate whatever, mind you, just emphasis and expansion.  

Don't think anyone can state strongly enough that, "SITE SELECTION is more important than calling skills. Or, anything else.", so I'll repeat and bold face it.  And repeat it again, "SITE SELECTION is more important than calling skills. Or, anything else.".

Also think your points 8 and 9 don't receive nearly the attention they deserve.  It's much easier to become part of an inconspicuous spot than a local landmark.  And while there's huge temptation to set up in places offering a long view of approaching birds, such vantages also afford said birds a long view of what's ahead.  I'm absolutely convinced that a gobbler that's looking for trouble won't often take long to spot it, no matter how well camouflaged.  So while I'm at least as fond of a view as the next man, I'll fight that temptation and try to offer birds I'm serious about killing precious little chance to look.

I'll hush up now and get out your way.

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oldbirddogman

Rick,

I would appreciate it very much if you wouldn't "hush and get out of the way."

I need help here, from you and all the rest who visit here that have turkey hunted.

I am aware that I am leaving out so much. There's just not time for me to say all that needs saying. Ya'll kindly help me fill in. I mean, comment whenever you can, or just pick a topic and write some tips.

My goal here is simply to supply some general guidelines that might help someone this spring that hasn't had the time to hunt turkeys much. I don't care who supplies the help.

As to Crenshaw County, Alabama, I'm north of there about 100 miles. I occasionally hunt just west of there in Butler County near Greenville. You described the area nicely. Lots of turkeys, pretty places, nice folks. 'Sounds like home to me.

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Michael Stenstrom
Rex, I have a thought or two on your distance estimation.  One, wait and listen for a little while.  Sometimes the gobbler on the roost spins every so often.  Sometimes he sounds different if he is facing towards you or away.  They often sound farther away when they are facing away from you.  Also if you have the luxury of moving up and down a road 20 or 30 yards (or more) it might help you triangulate the distance to the bird.

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oldbirddogman

Michael,

You are exactly right in advising Rex to wait and listen to the turkey several times and see if that doesn't help. (It will, if anything will.) Yours is good advise to everybody, not just those with hearing problems.

I'm sure you've heard somebody say, the first time a turkey gobbles, "I know right where he's at." Well, the fellow might indeed know where the turkey is, but the prudent thing to do is listen to him a few more times to be certain. If he hushes, and doesn't gobble anymore, you haven't lost much, as he probably wasn't in much of a mood to be called up anyhow.

About a turkey sounding differently when he's facing toward you or away from you -- don't forget that they sound differently when they're in the tree, (louder) and on the ground (more muffled). And, occasionally you will run up on one that gobbles with different degrees of volume. You have to be very alert and recognize what those kind are doing, or you may run over him when you try to move on him thinking he had moved away from you, when he was still in the same place gobbling low. I'm glad these turkeys are as infrequently encountered as they are.

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Rick Hall

I'm in kind of a time bind just now, but let me stir the pot a bit:

Given their druthers, a lot of successful turkey hunters will race past any number of quiet gobblers to set up near one that's fired up.  But what might one want to do when the whole woods are silent or his range is limited by property lines or some such?

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Brad Eden
I'm in kind of a time bind just now, but let me stir the pot a bit:

Given their druthers, a lot of successful turkey hunters will race past any number of quiet gobblers to set up near one that's fired up.  But what might one want to do when the whole woods are silent or his range is limited by property lines or some such?

Take a nap? :p

In my short carrer as a turkey hunter I often look for a bird that can be killed. In other words I've spent a huge amount of time working a vocal gobbler without getting him in for a shot and other birds in site, in full strut, but "henned" up.

Sometimes its best to salute a bird and go look for one that is more cooperative. Tough to do when a bird is gobbling at planes going overhead or another 20 pounder is showing off for the ladies in full sight. Gotta know when to pack it in.

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oldbirddogman

Rick,

As to your question about what to do with silent gobblers, or where there are property-line restraints, let me say this: When dealing with silent gobblers what you DO NOT DO is more important than what you do. I handle turkeys very gently here. If you scare one today, your chance of killing him that day is nearly zero. He usually won't even gobble tomorrow, and may not for a week. Turkeys are not like this everywhere, but these are the kind I have hunted all my life. I hunt ever carefully, and if I realize my chances are poor today, I sure don't do anything that will hurt them tomorrow. Today's silent turkey may gobble his head off tomorrow, if undisturbed. So, what do I do when there are no gobbling turkeys around? I sure don't go blowing through the woods scaring some. Let me clarify a bit. Just because I don't hear a turkey gobble from my first listening place, it doesn't mean there's no turkeys gobbling anywhere. So, if the weather is good, I mean it's a pretty, still morning and turkeys SHOULD be gobbling, I get on a quite road and cover some ground trying to locate one that is gobbling. I normally use an owl hooter, or hawk caller to locate with. More about that later.

But, if no turkeys gobble, and it is a bad weather day, windy, etc., and there is little chance of hearing one gobble anywhere, I go on the defensive. I pick a good seat in a place where I know turkeys often frequent, and I sit there calling occasionally, keeping my eyes open and paying attention. Many times those silent gobblers will slip in to the calls. This is a much tougher game than fooling with gobbling turkeys. If you are an impatient fellow, you will not be good at it. If none come, I slip out of the woods knowing that I have not hurt my chances for tomorrow. (I realize that some of you folks can't hurt everyday.)

When property lines come into play, I hunt the same way as described in the previous paragraph.  Just sit quietly and call.

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Michael Stenstrom
A thought that goes with this idea, both the start of the thread and the most recent question relates to scouting.  Before season I try to spend several mornings going to spots and listening to the birds and what they do.  I narrow down as many roost sites as I can.  Whenever I can move in and sit without disturbing the birds; and watch where they land and strut, and move off to; I do.  Let me emphasize the "without disturbing the birds" part of that poorly written sentence above.  Learn as much as you can about the area(s) you are going to hunt and the birds that live there before the season starts.  Just make sure you don't educate the birds by calling or disturbing them.

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Rick Hall

I like all three of your responses, guys.  Might boil 'em down to doing no harm, setting up where scouting suggests turkeys will travel, and being patient.

When I was nuts for turkeys, I learned the importance of scouting all morning, rather than just early on.  Doing so frequently gave me a handle on where gobblers with all the gals they could stand at daylight (and often little inclination to gobble then) were apt to troll for more later in the morning, after those they'd roosted near had been bred and gone to their nests.  Some birds seemed real wanderers, but others could be pretty well patterned.  They'd pick out favored hangouts in which to strut their stuff, and it didn't hurt my chances any to be there before they arrived.

Other times one can find more or less natural turkey funnels to increase his odds of a gobbler encounter.  An open pasture I've hunted in Alabama has an old sheep fence surrounding much of it, and I shot a jam-up silent gobbler that had gotten into the dangerous habit of marching through the same break in it most mornings.  And here in Louisiana, swamp turkeys are prone to gorge on baby crawfish, making the water's edge a good ambush bet on quite mornings.

And, Brad, a nap in the spring woods is an absolutely glorious thing - though I had no way of knowing so during my first however many fired up years.  And there have been gosh knows how many days when I didn't hear a fired up gobbler until it was late morning and most of the hens were working on their daily egg.  Didn't hurt that most human competition was out of the picture by then, too.

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