Ten Tips for Hunting Spring Turkeys (Page 2)
Follow these tactics for your best chance at taking America’s most challenging game bird from field to table this spring.
March 28, 2012
8. The Sounds of Silence
One of the first lessons my mentor in this wonderful sport taught me was just how important it was to recognize when not to call. His pithy advice was, “Get his attention and lay a heavy dose of silence on him.” It is human nature to call too often and too loudly, and maybe the best way to put this in perspective is to consider the frequency and volume of real turkey talk. Chances are it’s nowhere near what you are throwing out over the woodland air waves. Keep it soft and infrequent. Think more in terms of clucks and purrs than yelps and cutts unless you are actively working a bird whose mood demands aggressive calling. Periodic glances at your watch may help, as will limiting yourself to calling only once every 10 or 15 minutes. The sounds of silence, broken only once in a while, can be seductive to wary old toms.
9. The Turkey Time Zone
While the tip just offered mentions occasional peeks at a watch, that should not be taken as a recommendation to fall into one of turkey hunting’s deadly traps—the time bomb. Ours is a fast-paced world, driven by schedules, deadlines and appointments. Turkey time doesn’t work that way. There’s all day, every day, from fly down to fly up, to go about the business of being a turkey. The astute hunter tries his best to become immersed in the world of his quarry, and that means having patience and persistence. Haste makes waste in the turkey woods. Ramp things down and function on turkey time. It may take some attitude adjustment but you will find it pays dividends not only in hunting success but in the measure of pleasure derived from the overall experience.
10. Afternoon Delight
Not all states allow afternoon hunting. In places where it is permitted, the hunter who ventures afield before dawn, then revels in the peak vocalization time of early morning only to wind it all up before noon makes a mistake. Turkeys may not talk as much—and they may do some lazing in the shade on hot spring days—but they are still there. By setting up near places such as strut zones, dusting areas, travel routes and food plots, the hunter puts himself where birds are likely to be. Some infrequent and soft calling is in order, and it is heartening to know that if you do get a turkey stirred up in the afternoon, chances are greater that you can work him more often than in the early morning. That’s because hens likely have gone to their nests, dispersed or otherwise left the tom lonely. Afternoons can provide real delight, but only if the hunter is afield to experience it. The tried-and-true turkey hunter is one who hunts hard and long, and when possible that means during the afternoon. After all, you can always take a nap while afield, and any old master will tell you that an afternoon gobble has awakened him from such slumber more than once.
This double handful of tips won’t guarantee filled tags and sagging game bags. Turkey hunting is not a sport of guarantees unless you consider the certainty of foul-ups. What they do is improve the odds a bit and offer something of a primer for making you a better hunter. Ponder these points and ask yourself an honest question in connection with each one: “Is this something I do?” If the answer is no, give careful consideration to incorporating the tip into your overall bag of turkey tricks.