Editor’s Note: Bob Walker of Livingston, Alabama, hunts turkeys every day of the season as a guide at Bent Creek Lodge (http://www.bentcreeklodge.com/ – 205-398-3040) in Jachin, Ala. Most turkey hunters want to hit the woods on opening day of turkey season, however, in many states turkey season opens before turkey breeding season starts. Here Walker gives us tips for taking early-season gobblers.
Scouting and searching for turkeys is the number-one secret for taking early-season gobblers. However, I don’t walk through turkey woods the week before the season. I like to stay on the outside of the areas I plan to hunt during the season. I want to go to the places I’m going to hunt the week before the season starts to listen and try to locate the gobblers. Wherever you ride to get to where you want to listen, don’t be in a hurry to get there. If you’re in a pickup truck, lower the tailgate quietly, sit on the tailgate, and just listen. You can use a crow call or an owl hooter to try and make turkeys gobble, but most times I don’t do that. I prefer to let turkeys gobble on their own. Once you’ve heard the turkeys gobble, stay a little longer and listen carefully to try to determine in what direction that tom goes after he flies down from the roost. If you get that information on three different gobblers before the season arrives, you’ll be in really-good shape for an early-morning first-day hunt.
I also attempt to pinpoint turkeys in different types of terrain. Besides finding a gobbler in the woods, I want to locate a gobbler that’s roosting close to a pasture, an agricultural field, a clear-cut or some other type of opening. That way I know where to hunt, if our property has rain or other kinds of bad weather. One big mistake many turkey hunters make before the season is that if they wake up on the day they plan to scout, and rain’s falling, a fog has set in, the skies are overcast, or the day is very windy, they’ll roll over and go back to sleep. But I’ve learned on those bad, rainy days is when I need to be scouting. Since more than likely I’ll have to hunt on bad, rainy days, I need to know where the turkeys are when the rain’s coming down. Opening day of turkey season may include a sky full of clouds and rain falling. More than likely I’ll have to take a hunter and try and find him a turkey on that kind of day.
To learn more about turkey hunting, check out John E. Phillips’s book, “The Turkey Hunting Guides’ Bible,” at https://amzn.to/2ZlSXEP, and available in Kindle, print and Audible versions.
Tomorrow: Meet with Area Deer Hunters