Below are some of the most common issues Turkey Hunters face, as well as info for those just getting started. Through decades of trial and error, we found ways to help with these issues to increase your chances of success.
Turkey Hunting : HOW TOs
Turkey Hunting from Blinds
Upside: If you have a small kid that can’t sit still long, or if it’s raining, blinds can be extremely effective. They also are great for hunting open fields where there are no trees and for bowhunting; with the eyesight turkeys have, it can be very hard to draw back on a bird while out in the open.”Downside: I personally don’t like ground blinds because they limit mobility.
Setting Up Turkey Decoys
You can’t just stake decoys and expect them to work. You must make choices.“With strutter decoys, use a jake fan so it doesn’t scare the dominant tom and so it attracts gobblers of all ages. Depending on the time of year, the stake can be removed to resemble a gobbler and hen breeding, which will also coax a tom in. Also, any time you can add real feathers will make a big difference.
Pairing the calls up with the real thing or at least make them think it is by using a decoy is how you bring a tom (or a lot of them) into range. What turkey decoy type should you use?“A lot of times if you’re using a Jake decoy, a turkey will strut in with slow movements, he’s not really jumpy. I think when you use a stutter decoy, sometimes those turkeys come in and they’re on edge...shying away from the gobbler. So sometimes the Jake in the pre-breeding position is the one to use. While strutters and Jake decoys might result in a shy uncooperative bird, you can never really go wrong with a single hen decoy.
Pre-Season ScoutingThe turkey hunting itch begins as early as March for some. When it comes, don’t ignore it...scratch that itch! The best way is with pre-season scouting. Earlier in the year during the late winter, you will be looking for the flock. Scout food sources such as mast bearing (acorn filled) hardwood flats, cut grain fields, and pastures for tracks, droppings, and scratching. “Set up some trail cameras in some areas where you think they might be feeding. Locating the flock with this tactic gives you the general area, but later in the year you will focus more on locating gobblers to hunt.Take advantage of days off work, weekend days, and any hours you get free. If you’re off work on a rainy day, use it to scout! “Especially when you’re hunting eastern turkeys, rainy days means they like to come out on the fields.I don’t know if they feel more comfortable out in the open or safer out there, but that’s a good time to take a cruise around if you’ve got some open fields and find where you’ve got groups of turkeys.”
By far the easiest way to kill a gobbler in the spring is finding his roost the night before. Use your pre-season scouting observations to key in on a general area where the turkey might be spending the night. When you get off workhead to the woods. Without spooking the bird get within earshot andlisten for wings flapping and light calling as turkeys fly up on their roosts for the night. You can also use a locator call like a crow or owl to get a tom to gobble on the roost as its just turning dark. It is recommended to not locate with turkey calls so they don’t locate you and spook or become educated. Since there’s no leaves on the trees... you can cover ground at dark and see them in the trees and hear where they’re roosting.By getting in close to observe and listen to a tom on the roost you will know exactly when and where to be the next morning.Wake up early and walk in the cover of darkness, not using a light, and set up close to the tree. Call to the tom lightly after he begins to talk on the roost. If you let him know there is a hen below in your direction, he will come and investigate. If you are not the best at the “turkey talk” there is still hope with this tactic. “Roost the gobbler in the afternoon but the next morning concentrate on finding the hen group closest to that roost, place yourself between the tom and the hen group and be patient, he will come.”
Using “turkey talk” is the number one way to kill a big long beard. Turkey calling is turkey hunting 101. “Sweet yearning, seductive sounds of very excited lonesome hen turkey...that is what we are trying to achieve here. Learning this talk and learning how to sound like that lonesome hen is achieved after a couple years of turkey hunting, but getting the right call can cut that time in half.Using our Slate orGlass pot calls will be much easier to master rather than going to the field for the first time with a diaphragm call. Once you have the right call, you need to learn how to use it correctly.
Yelp A lot of guys draw circles with the striker to make a yelp—and don’t get me wrong, that’ll kill turkeys—but it sounds like wow, wow, wow. You want yee-ow, yee-ow, yee-ow, which is more realistic. To get that, draw the shape of a small hook—like a bream hook. Start at about 1 o’clock near the top of the sweet circle and move the striker right-to-left to make the hook shank. Then come down a little and around to finish off the hook. Just don’t come too far into the middle of the call.
Cluck, Cutt, and Cackle If you can cluck, you can make all three. So let’s start there. Put the tip of the striker in the same place and give it a little downward pressure. Then just pull toward you until it pops off. It’s like striking a match. To cutt, apply a little more pressure for a louder, sharper sound, and string the clucks together. To cackle, start with a few normal clucks, and then run eight or 10 together real quick, and end with a few more regular clucks.
Play The Circle The very edge of a pot call is too high pitched, and the middle sounds dead. In between is what I call the sweet circle, a 3⁄8-to 1⁄2-inch-thick band all around the call. Always keep your striker in it.
Purr To purr, make a very small letter C, using mostly your fingers to move the striker. You can mix the sound up a little by drawing a tall C or a squat one, or even coming straight down the call. Using a variety of turkey calling sounds is key to improving your results.
The very edge of a pot call is too high pitched, and the middle sounds dead. In between is what I call the sweet circle, a 3⁄8-to 1⁄2-inch-thick band all around the call. Always keep your striker in it.
Common Calling Mistakes
Variation I know this might sound like something you expect to hear from a call maker, but variation really is a key part of turkey hunting, especially if you only have a small area to hunt in.Turkeys are very smart and they will get used to the sound of your calls. If you only have one call and use it over and over, the turkey will stop responding, and eventually run the other way when they hear you calling. Variation can be as simple as buying a few extra strikers for your pot call, different woods of strikers will make different tones. Or you can be like many hunters out there and carry two or three of every type of call possible into the woods.While this can get cumbersome, it can also lead to great results if you know how to use all of the calls together.
Don't Overcall Hunters sometimes get the wrong impression about using turkey calls. You don't have to call every 30 seconds. I think this comes from a lack of patience and from seeing hunting shows where it appears that is what they are doing, but you have to remember, they tend to edit out the boring parts.I have a general rule of calling no more than every 15 minutes if I am not getting an answer. I have never once heard a hen just stand in the woods and yelp continuously, so why would that be what I imitate?
No Need to Yell Sometimes you will need to use your calls as loud as possible. For example, if you are trying to locate, or if it is a windy day and you can see turkeys at a distance would both be good times to try to get full volume from your turkey calls. But when you are actively calling a turkey and getting response, soften up. Remember, most of your calling is as a hen that is supposed to be enticing a gobbler to come towards her.Soft yelps, clucks, and purrs tend to get the job done a lot better than just yelping as loud as possible.Try one of our slate calls for that softer realistic calling.
Know When to Stop The last piece of advice I have is to know when to stop calling. If you have a gobbler coming across a field directly towards you, you don't need to keep calling.Put down your calls and just wait.The more you call, the more likely you are to mess up and send him running. If he stops or turns, then calla little more, but if it is not necessary, don't do it.
Let's say you do it right and slip within 100 yards of a roosted turkey that is gobbling hot and heavy. The more the bird roars, the more you feel an uncontrollable urge to cluck and yelp. But be careful! Too much calling at first light can hang a tom on his limb as he waits for the hot "hen" to sail or walk beneath his roost tree. And the longer he sits up there and fails to see a girl, the more he smells a rat. When the bird finally flies down 30 minutes later, there's a good chance he'll run the other way.So fight the urge to call too early. Wait until pink illuminates the sky. Then give a bird some pillow talk to let him now you're there. A couple of sultry tree clucks and yelps are about right.If the turkey bellows don’t make another sound! He has honored you as a hen, he likes what he heard, and he knows where you are. Let him fly down and come looking for you. But if the tom fails to gobble, cluck and yelp a little louder to focus his attention in your direction.If he still doesn't talk, it's no big deal. Listen for the bird to fly down, then hit him with a spirited hen cackle. Try flapping a turkey wing against your leg to sound like a hen pitching to the ground. If the tom gobbles and steps your way, you might not need to call again. But if he hangs up after 5 minutes or so, cluck, yelp and purr a little louder. As long as the turkey hangs around and gobbles keep playing the game. Most hunters move too quickly on toms that might eventually strut to their calls 30 minutes or so after fly-down time.
Henned Up Turkeys
As veteran turkey hunters know, to kill a spring gobbler, you sometimes have to call his hen to your position. “You must have patience. In this situation, stop calling the gobbler, and try calling the hen. If you can get her fired up and cutting back at you, then there's a good chance she will bring the gobbler right in with her. They don’t like other hens talking to their boyfriends. That’s when you must depend on your patience and calling ability to coax in the boss hen. What will make her more upset is if you start copying exactly what she’s saying in a louder and more aggressive way.
Hung Up Gobblers
We’ve all been there. The gobbler answers but holds his ground. He’s probably heard you call from the same spot and direction, and he’s just no longer interested. If the cover is thick enough, back out of the area and try calling from a different spot.Sometimes I’ll even try a different call to change things up. A final thought on hung-up gobblers. “Turkeys have their own schedules; all you might need is a little patience.”