John’s Note: The way you scout before turkey season will impact how quickly you take a tom on opening weekend and how many turkeys you harvest throughout the season. If you scout like everyone else, especially if you hunt a public area, you’ll have a tough time hunting turkeys this season. But the hunters who put forth the most effort will locate some easy turkeys. Let’s look at some creative tactics to take the turkeys nobody else may hunt.
Anybody can find giveaway turkeys – the ones you can call to from the side of a road.
You simply climb out of your vehicle, and the turkey will answer. Often by driving through a public-hunting area before the season, you can pinpoint four or five of these giveaway turkeys from the road. Of course, everyone else who’s driven down that road and called knows the locations of those same gobblers. If you try to hunt those turkeys on opening weekend or week, most likely several other hunters also will try to take those same turkeys too.
To take these giveaway turkeys, hunt them before the season with your GPS instead of a gun. Get close to that gobbler before the opening day of the season, and let him fly down out of the tree. When the gobbler is well away from the roost tree, go to the roost tree, and mark that tree or area on your hand-held GPS receiver as a waypoint. Put the time into your GPS that you’ve heard the turkey gobble and the time that he’s flown out of the roost tree.
Follow the turkey by using locator calls to keep up with where the turkey’s going, and what time he’s moving there. Mark the spot where you find his tracks, strutting regions and dusting areas, and where he goes into a field, comes out of a field and spends the middle of the day in your hand-held GPS receiver. Then under NOTES, enter the time of day that the turkey’s showing up at each site. Most turkey hunters, when they pre-season scout, only try to locate a turkey’s roost tree. Following that bird and keeping up with his movements for half a day takes more time than most hunters want to spend, but the hunters who do this will enjoy the most success.
Then on opening weekend while everyone’s trying to reach that turkey’s roost tree to call him, they’ll most likely spook him. But, you can set up and take a stand in one of the places you know the turkey’s going to once he leaves the limb. The hunters hunting the giveaway turkeys will move that turkey right to you, if not on opening morning, then probably at some time during opening week. If you hunt a turkey like he’s a deer, learn his travel routes, feeding areas, strutting spots and places where he prefers to stay; you’ll take more turkeys than you will if you only hunt turkeys on the roost. Too, the other hunters who only go to a turkey in the morning when he gobbles will push those turkeys to you and help you take them.
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About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.