Getting Tight to Turkeys

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Published on: May. 19, 2010

Turkey Display

Trouble working turkeys in close? Try these time-tested techniques.

At 30 yards, a majestic tom turkey crested the wooded ridge in front of me. He continued walking my way. At 15 yards, he stopped and stretched his neck to look. He was close enough that I could see his feathers ruffling in the slight breeze. I carefully aimed the 20-gauge Parker double-gun and applied pressure to the front trigger. As the old shotgun bucked against my shoulder, I knew I’d met half my season’s limit.

I’ve hunted turkeys for close to three decades and have taken birds out to 40 and 50 yards with specialty shotguns coupled with shot shells loaded specifically for hunting turkeys. Tagging turkeys at those ranges, however, is not nearly as exciting as working a turkey to within 25 yards or closer.

That’s why I often hunt with my great, great grandfather’s Parker. With 2 3⁄4-inch chambers, barrels choked full and shells loaded with an ounce of 7 1⁄2 shot, the old shotgun does a fine job of tagging turkeys out to 30 yards, forcing me to work the turkeys in close. Here’s what hunting with shotguns with limited range has taught me about getting tight to turkeys.

Scout Early

Turkeys are creatures of habit. They have favorite roosting areas, loafing areas, feeding areas and, in spring, places where they go to breed. They also have preferred routes they use to get to these places. If a hunter learns these patterns in his turkey-hunting area and sets up accordingly, calling in turkeys becomes far easier.

Learning the daily patterns of turkeys in an area requires scouting. Scout a week or two before the hunting season opens. Turkey habits change with the change of seasons. Scouting close to the hunting season increases the likelihood that what you see during scouting will be what you see while hunting.

Scouting for turkeys in spring is made a little easier by toms gobbling and giving away their location. For a clear idea as to what toms will be doing when the hunting season starts, scout the week before season, three or four days in a row, before first light.

Calling before season is fun, but it can pull toms off their regular patterns, giving a false picture concerning their habits. Calling to toms before the season also risks spooking the toms, which makes calling them in during the season even tougher.

Missouri’s fall turkey season opens October 1st, which makes

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