The first week of turkey season has passed in my neck of the woods and the score is still gobblers 2, traditional archer 0. For some reason the birds I scouted have not shown themselves during my two longbow hunts. I'm guessing that they are busy with their hens.
Luckily, I still have a month to go before our season ends and it only gets better as more hens get bred and the gobblers begin to get a bit more reckless in their search for new suitors.Next week, I'm making a concerted effort and taking a few days off to get out there in the turkey woods.
My time in the turkey woods this year has reminded me of a couple of things. First, if you are going to use a longbow or recurve, you need to really understand when to call and when to move. The reason is simple. Unless you are inside a ground blind, your movements in readying a traditional bow can easily alert a sharp-eyed gobbler.
My strategy is to call in order to make contact and let the bird know where I am. As soon as I see movement or hear return calling indicating that a bird is approaching, I stop calling and, first good chance I get, slowly ready my bow. My hope is that the bird will approach, hunting the hen I was imitating, and focus on my decoys which are set within 15 yards of me — 20, if I can place them against a downed tree or obstacle that will forced the gobbler to display between the hens and I.
In short, the minute I have gained the bird's interest, I do very little in terms of calling, except maybe scratch the ground as a hen might while feeding. Instead, I'm focusing on figuring out the best shot opportunities, when to draw and yardages to possible ambush points.
If you are good with mouth call, you might tease the bird to come in more, but personally, I have a hard time shooting my longbow when using a mouth call; it throws off my anchor point and distracts me. So, I'd rather shut up while the bird comes in. This almost always works when shotgun hunting too.
The other thing I was quickly reminded of is that I need to continually practice shooting from unconventional positions — particularly from a sitting position. I do try to position myself standing behind big trees or crouched behind blow downs or boulders so I can stand to shoot, but often the turkeys take you to places where you need to sit to remain unobtrusive. So this week I have been practicing that more.
The point here is that every visit to the turkey woods can teach or remind you of something if you pay attentions. Hopefully, this will pay off.