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Published on: Mar. 23, 2011

rush at a flock of turkeys next to a woods lot, turkeys may just fly up in the trees, maybe no more than 20 yards from the coyote. That’s not the response if a human steps out. Though a wild turkey’s brain is no bigger than a walnut, they know the difference between humans and other predators. Wild turkeys perceive humans as predator supreme, and they do all in their power to avoid us.

If you spook turkeys several times—or maybe just once—they will change their routines.

Telemetry studies in Missouri show that the home territory of wild turkeys varies by season and ranges from about 240 to 2,000 acres. This means that if you are hunting on a small farm and you disrupt the pattern of the turkeys using it, at best they will change their pattern and become a little more wary but still be on the farm. At worst, they will move a ridge over—off the farm—leaving you out of luck.

On small farms, when toms are not gobbling, the way to hunt them is to pick a spot turkeys have been using, set up carefully, then wait them out. Sit for hours—from before first light until the end of shooting hours if necessary. This minimizes your chances of spooking birds and maximizes your chances of tagging a tom. Few turkey hunters, however, practice this approach. They equate long sits with boredom and an aching back and rear end. Yet long sits don’t have to be boring or uncomfortable if approached the right way.

On long sits for turkeys, problems with comfort are easy to handle. Use insect repellent so mosquitoes and ticks aren’t a problem. Bring cushions to sit on and place between your back and the tree you sit against. Many turkey-hunting vests offer built-in cushions. Pick a spot to sit that offers comfort: flat terrain that has you at a comfortable angle. Also, choose a spot that has you in the shadows and offers enough vegetation to break up your outline but also offers you clear shooting lanes. You can use clippers to clear shooting lanes or to trim leafy limbs to stick them in the ground around you. Setting up in the shadows with a proper screen of brush allows you to move a little and stay comfortable. When a tom walks into view, that’s the time to remain motionless.

Boredom is more difficult than physical comfort. It

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