One of the best ways you can improve your success rate this spring when hunting spring gobblers is to avoid making mistakes. Thinking back on hunts I've made with some of the country's best turkey experts, this is the one thing they all seemed to have in common. They kept mistakes to a minimum.
Try to eliminate as many flub-ups as you can and chances are you'll be attaching your tag to a handsome bird before the season closes. Here are a few of the most common ones.
|Be careful not to call too much — the more you call turkey, the more chances you could strike a sour note.|
Driving too close to the hunting area. Old timers tell hunting stories about driving right up to the area they wanted to hunt and slamming the door to get the gobblers to respond to the loud noise. All I can say is birds must have been more naive back then.
In most areas toms are hunted so heavily these days that they'll either leave when they hear a car door slam or simply stay quiet. That makes hunting them next to impossible.
Park at least a quarter-mile from your hunting area or where you think gobblers might be roosting. A half-mile is better still. You don't want the birds to have any idea a human is in the area.
Approaching too close to a gobbler. This is somewhat similar to the first approach, only this time it's you that spooks the bird, not the vehicle.
Says Winchester turkey expert Jim Clay, "You can usually call a bird a little further, but if you take one step too close and that gobbler sees you or senses something is wrong, the game is over before it even starts."
Of course there's no set rule on how close you should approach a tom. If you set up too far away, chances are the tom may not come to your calls. After all, in real life hens usually go to the gobbler. We try to reverse that when hunting and have the gobbler go to the hen (our calls.)
In areas with thick cover or lots of knolls, you can sometimes approach within 75-100 yards. During early season when the woods are more open, it may be necessary to stay twice that distance from the bird to avoid having it see you.
By getting in while it's still pitch dark you can maybe inch a little closer than that. But avoid using a flashlight, which can alert wary toms.
Calling too often. Let's face it. A big part of the fun of hunting spring gobblers is calling — hearing the sounds we create echo through the woods and hoping they'll lure in a wary tom. Because it's so much fun, many of us have a tendency to overdo it.
In reality, hens don't call that much. If you call non-stop you won't sound natural and there's more chance you'll flub up and strike a sour note. The tom may also decide if the hen is that eager, he doesn't need to rush in to her. He'll wait and let her come to him.
One of the worst times to call turkey too often is when a turkey is still on the roost. Call only once, at most twice to a gobbler still in a tree at first light. He can locate your exact position and remember it from that one call.
Once a tom flies down and answers you, refrain from calling more as long as he is coming towards you. If he hangs up, call a bit more, perhaps with a different caller to bring him in the final distance necessary for a clean shot. For most shotguns and hunters, that means 40 yards or less.