Two months into turkey season, my desire to continue turkey hunting was fading. After a week without a gobble, the situation on the final day of season was developing without improvement. Without hearing a sound, the decoys were positioned and we varied our calls every half hour. A couple of hours into the hunt, a small group of young toms appeared in our set, and a turkey dinner was on the ground. Ending the season with little chance of success, I was reminded that the right tactics can lead to a successful season. Here are some suggestions to help you develop the best game plan for your turkey hunting.
Begin calling with a few soft yelps. If you do not get a response, give another series of yelps increasing the excitement and volume. Then add in a gobble. This often convinces nearby toms that there are competing toms and eager hens in the area. Do not overdo your turkey calling. You want to sound as natural as possible to the gobblers. Allow 15 to 20 minutes of silence between each series of calls. Become proficient with different types of calls, including friction calls and tube calls. Each type produces different sounds and tones.
Using a one-note gobbler cluck sufficiently tells nearby turkeys of your location without overdoing it. It also plays on the desire of a gobbler to maintain the pecking order. Even with a short mating season, toms will fight throughout the year to establish and maintain the pecking order. Using gobbler yelps challenges other toms. This is a slower, drawn-out yelp with a little excitement. Also, try combining gobbles with gobbler putts. A gobbler putt is the high-pitched, low-volume sound a gobbler makes when it is feeding. Other low-volume calls include softly purring on a slate friction call to emulate turkeys that are feeding. Try raking the ground with a stick to add in the realism of turkeys scratching through the leaves for food. Keep the raking volume low enough to hear a turkey approaching.
Gobblers like areas that make them visible to hens and areas open enough to easily detect any danger. Scout for creek bottoms between clear cuts or hardwood ridges that offer good views. Creek bottoms are ideal travel corridors and strut areas. Logging roads are also great travel corridors and offer good visibility for the turkeys and hunters.
Fields with short grasses provide the perfect locations for hens to search for insects. With insects being a primary part of a turkey’s diet during mating season, short grass fields become twice as desirable to gobblers. Food plots of chufa and clover are turkey magnets. Turkeys love chufa, which is a grass like plant that produces small root tubers. If you have the tools and a little time, planting food plots can payoff by attracting and holding turkeys.
Turkey Hunting Tactics
Many times, turkey hunters use the run and gun tactic for gobblers. If you are hunting an area you have scouted and know holds turkeys, do not be afraid to stay put and allow the birds to come to you. Locating the best areas can build your confidence and patience to hold out for the turkeys you know are close. If you are willing to wait out the birds, you have to be comfortable. Make sure you carry some type of folding seat and extra cushion. Along with cushioning your position, the seat will lift you off the ground while still allowing you to stay low. Position the seat against a large tree for safety and comfort. In many instances, a small folding fence style blind can conceal your calling movements.
If you prefer complete concealment, try setting up in tent blind to avoid being seen by a turkey. Once you are set-up and comfortable, sit tight and be patient. Many times it may take an hour or two before the birds work in close enough for a shot.
For additional articles and resources on turkey hunting, please visit http://www.nwtf.org/