six-toms-for-one-hen

The Competition for Mating

Spring Turkey Hunting Tips III

Well the spring turkey season is upon us, and as I wrote on Monday night, we are still having winter conditions here in Colorado, with potentially 6 more inches of snow tonight.  I was hoping to get out this Sunday since my son has a lacrosse game on Saturday, but I’ll have to see with all this new snow on the ground.  While I am very anxious to get out, I am happy to wait until spring actually stays here for a week or two and some of the hunting pressure lets up a little.  I thought I would give a blast of tips for those of you who might be getting out soon, and hopefully the next time I write about turkey hunting, I will be writing about a successful hunt, or at least a hunt.  So here are some quick tips, I apologize if some them are repetitive from my other turkey hunting articles.

  • Learn to use a slate call, box call, and mouth call if possible. Some turkeys will prefer one sound while others will like something else. This will make you more versatile and more successful.  In addition, a mouth call may be your only option for that last call on a bird when you are holding your gun or bow in your hands and can’t use a slate or box call.
  • Once hens get bred and start going to sit on their nests in the morning, use this to your advantage.  Gobblers will be out looking – this is when hunting mid-morning all the way through afternoon can pay off big.
  • If possible, locate Toms in the evening.  You will hear them “cackle” and fly up to roost right before dark.  Turkeys will “shock gobble” at everything from a coyote howl or crow call to a horn honking!  Use a “locator call” to locate toms in the evenings prior to fly up.  In the morning, sneak in under the cover of darkness, and setup as close as you can to the “roost tree” without spooking the turkeys (75 to 150 yards if possible).  As daylight starts to break, give some light hen yelps (“tree yelps”).  Once the gobbler answers you, call according to his response.  You don’t want to jump all over him, but you can also be too timid.  If he is liking your calls, keep him fired up.
  • Setup with your back against a large tree for safety and concealment.  If you are right handed, position yourself at about a 90 degree angle to an approaching turkey.  Your left shoulder should point at the turkey rather than sitting face on to the turkey.  This gives you the most versatility to shoot.
  • If you find a well worn trail with fresh sign of feathers, scratch marks, and droppings, it’s a pretty good bet that you have found a corridor that the turkeys are using on a regular basis.  Unless you have scouted this area or used trail cams to confirm the timing of when they are on that trail, you have to use your best guess as to when to stake out that trail for an ambush.  In this situation, you don’t want to be aggressive at all; no decoys and no calling, just be in a good position.  If you aren’t seeing anything, a few soft clucks every half hour or so is OK, but give it plenty of time before you do anything.
  • If you have patterned a big tom that likes to stay out in the middle of a field and won’t approach any cover within shooting distance, come back the next day with a portable blind and decoys and get them setup well before sun light.   A tom that exhibits this behavior feels confident out in that field, and the next morning when he goes out there he will be immediately drawn to your decoys.
  • If you are using a blind, it is better to dress in all black rather than camouflage as your silhouette will match what the inside of a blind looks like from the outside.  In other words, wearing camo inside a blind is really counterproductive as it does not blend in with the darkness of a blind.
  • Hens that are not nesting will be looking for food to build nourishment and strength in their bodies before the nesting process begins.  If you find places where the hens will feed, the toms will likely follow them, just like a lounge lizard will hang out at a wine bar even though he prefers beer.  Open fields with grasshoppers will attract hens, so will damp areas that warm up faster than the surrounding area, such as creek beds or leaf-covered openings.  Look for patches of leaves or cow pies that have been turned over, these are sure signs of turkeys looking for grubs, beetles, and pill bugs.
  • Try to learn the terrain around your immediate set-up position as well as you can.  Certain obstacles in the terrain, such as a blow down or a steep creek bank, may keep a gobbler from coming the rest of the way to your position.  If you don’t understand this and keep trying to bring the bird in, you are more likely to scare it off.
  • Always keep in mind that you may not be the only hunter in the woods.  If you are stalking a bird, trying to lure a tom in with a real tail fan, or simply walking slowly and quietly through the woods, you are putting yourself at risk of being shot.  Some tactics are only good on private land when you know you are the only hunter in the area.

    oceola-turkey

    Oceola Turkey

Hopefully these last minute tips will help you with a successful hunt.  If anything you have read from me helps you get a turkey, please let me know, and send a picture, I will post it for everyone to see.  I will have some pictures to post soon, of a hunt yet to be taken.  Whether there will be a turkey in those photos I can’t say.  I hope so, but it will be an adventure just the same.