Top 10 Turkey Tactics Part 2on Apr 9, 2013
Welcome back to part two of the top ten turkey tactics for spring success. In part one we counted down to number 6. In this article we will continue the count down until we hit the number one tactic that will increase your spring success. Let’s get right to it! (part 1)
5- Hunt by Boat
If you have never turkey hunted by boat you are really missing the boat (pardon the pun). This tactic works great for getting away from hunting pressure, hunting call shy toms, and covering lots of ground for Cutting & Running.
This method is best done using the buddy system. If you have a small shallow river, one that you are not able to use a motor in, or if you’re simply planning on taking the stealth approach, begin first by looking at a map. Try to locate a drop off point and a pick up location. The next morning, leave a vehicle at the pickup location and you and your friend head to the drop off location. Now all that is left is to quietly float down the river calling as you work your way to the pickup spot.
Most public land turkeys are hammered by hunters coming at them from the road. By taking the boat approach you can access these birds from a totally different direction than what they are used to. Also some river locations can be so remote that it’s possible to call in birds that have never seen a hunter before. This same tactic can also be applied to large bodies of water such as lakes and reservoirs to throw a curve ball at those heavily pressured birds.
4- Work Prime Nesting Locations in Mid-Morning to Afternoon
Long beards are like a whitetail buck during the rut. When they are with their hot hens often they stay with them for as long as they can. After the hen gets bred she will head to her nest to lay an egg. The tom will often hang with the last remaining hen of his flock and will follow her for as long as he can until he is convinced that she wants nothing to do with him, then he begins working his way through an area in search for more hens. This is your time to strike.
Nesting areas can be large arrays of cover, everything from fallow farm fields, CRP and prairie grasses, thick slashing, to dry marsh grass.
Similar to locating doe bedding areas, locating areas where hens like to hide in order to "nest" will increase your odds of success.
One thing nesting sites have in common is that they have thick vegetation to conceal the hen and her nest from prying eyes of hawks, owls, or other predators. If you’re on a midafternoon walk (aka scouting excursion), and a hen just flushes out of nowhere, note that location. Stop and study the area because you have just located a nesting area. Also, consider the habitat of that spot and apply it to other locations in your area to possibly find more nesting areas. Now that you have identified possible nesting locations, come back during mid-morning and early afternoon and work within hearing distance of these locations while doing a tactic called cutting and running. If you get no response doing some aggressive cuts and yelps, continue working your way around these areas. Just keep covering ground in search for that long beard that was pulled down into these locations by his hens.
3- Less is More, Know When to Shut Up
Far too often hunters think there is some other reason or an obstacle in the way that hangs that hot long beard up. When in reality they probably just called way too much. Keep in mind that every time you call to that long beard you are boosting his ego. If you gave a tom a mirror he would spend all day strutting in front of it and admiring how good looking he is; like a body builder in a gym. These birds are the most egotistical creatures in the world. Also the nature of things is for the hen to come to him. If you just keep hammering him with calls, sure he will gobble back and get you all excited but in reality you’re telling him how good looking he is and how he’s the king of the woods. This will do nothing to get him to break and come to you. However, if you build him up just enough to feel good about him and get him excited about your date, then set him up and make him think you left causing that ego of his to deflate like a balloon with a hole in it, he will come looking for you out of shear desperation.
While it is exciting to call a gobbler and hear him respond to your calls, sometimes the best thing is to be quiet after the initial call and let his insecurity mount until he decides to come to you.
The key to this tactic is taking his temperature, and no I don’t mean running at him trying to stab him with a thermometer. If he is hot and cranking gobbles back at you his ego is in full swing, especially if he double or even triples gobbles. When his ego gets this big, know when to shut up and put the call down. As you give him the cold shoulder he deflates, soon he begins to wonder what happened to you and begins thinking about you, not himself. As he does this he often works his way to you. One thing to keep in mind that as he works his way to you he is now on the defensive, he is on edge and looking for danger as he heads to the unknown. This will cause him to quiet right down. Far too often as this happens hunters think that the bird has lost interest, when in fact the reason he stopped gobbling is the tom is really working his way to you.
If you feel you need to give him some calls or want to check his locations we recommend you start off soft. Keep it to some soft purrs and clucks. If you get no response bump it up to some soft yelps. If still no response, bump it up to some louder yelps and even a cut or two. If still no response get ready because nine times out of ten he is coming in silently. If you call and he does respond but hasn’t budged it’s time to play hard ball because now it has become a mental game. Put those calls down and wait him out because the one with the most will power will be the victor.