Unsung Secrets of Successful Turkey Hunting

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 15, 2010

access to a good place. Turkey hunters I know who tag turkeys year after year scout before the season, gain access to productive hunting spots, and then they hunt nearly every day of the season. Some take time off from work or modify their routines so they are afield every morning for a short hunt before work.

A room full of students awaits me Monday through Friday at 8 a.m. During spring turkey season, I rise each day before 4 a.m., pack a change of clothes in the truck and drive to the woods. I hunt until 7:15 a.m., and then change clothes and go to work.

After school I come home and visit with my family. After supper, I'm in the timber again to roost gobblers for the following morning. If I wake to rain in the early predawn, I gather my stuff and go to the woods anyway. That's why I own rain gear. If it's thunder storming, I may sit in the truck and wait for the storm to pass. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it doesn't.

Although I am bushed by the end of the season, I've enjoyed some exciting hunts, probably learned something new about turkey hunting and made some fine memories.

After two or three days of hunting, many turkey hunters opt to sleep in until the weekend. On the weekends they hunt until 9 a.m. or so, and then quit for the day. Such a schedule may keep a hunter well rested, but it greatly reduces his or her chances of slipping a tag around a gobbler's leg.

Proper Attitude

The final secret of successful turkey hunting is to enter the timber knowing that you will not kill every turkey you set up on. No matter how polished your skills, a whole season may go by without killing a bird. Even under the best conditions, the finest turkey hunters probably never tag more than half the turkeys they attempt to call. There are too many hitches in turkey hunting.

You might, for example, do your preseason work and pattern a gobbler's routine. For four straight days the tom may have gobbled hard on the roost, and then pitched down to a field to strut and attract hens. On opening day, you set up at the edge of the field with a couple of hen decoys, close to where the turkey has been strutting. You fully expect the gobbler to stroll into shotgun range shortly after shooting hours begin.

The turkey gobbles, just as he has for four days, but at flydown he pitches to the ridge and struts 30 yards from his roost tree. He stays there and won't budge. You know you didn't alert the gobbler. You set up in the black of early morning, giving the area plenty of time to settle. Why didn't the turkey follow the routine of the previous four days? The answer is simple. The situation involves a turkey, and no turkey is completely predictable. That's part of the mystery and allure of the sport.

So, when the day's hunt is over and a capricious old gobbler has foiled your best efforts, tip your hat to him and enjoy the other gifts that spring turkey season offers. Pause to admire spring wildflowers, enjoy watching warblers and other small birds as they flit from tree to tree in search of insects. On the walk back to the truck, watch for morels. Maybe you'll find a few. The next day you'll be back, and if you apply these secrets of turkey hunting, a fine tom may be yours.

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