By Cole Daniels
Hunkering down against a tree and waiting for a turkey is textbook turkey hunting. Mix in a hen decoy and some yelps & purrs and you’ve got yourself a classic gobbler killing setup. This strategy has worked for decades and probably kills more turkeys than any other strategy combined. Then again, the average hunter success rate for spring turkey season is less than 20%. If your favorite big league ball player was hitting less than .200 he would be sent down to the minors in no time. If an NFL quarterback completed just 20% of his passes, he would be named Brett Favre. Well, maybe that’s a little harsh for old #4 but you get the picture.
As a whole, turkey hunters are probably not doing everything they could be doing to put a bird on the ground. There are times when we continue to play a passive game when we should get aggressive. Aggressive turkey hunting isn’t for everyone. It can be feast or famine. Since most hunters are not used to turning up the heat on turkeys, there is a learning curve as well. But sometimes birds just aren’t responding to traditional methods and aggression is the only way to fill a tag.
Hunt With A Buddy & Get Moving
Walk slowly just inside the cover along field edges. Call loudly and keep your eyes peeled. Turkeys could be in the woods or in the adjacent fields. Having a friend to hunt with gives you an extra set of eyes and an additional caller. If you’ve given up your traditional set by midday, become a turkey. After sitting on the nest in the morning, hens will venture out in search of food. Lonely gobblers looking for romance become more susceptible to calling. Two callers on the move sound like two hens picking the forest floor for grubs and grass. Once you get a response, close some distance if it’s possible without being spotted. Your extra caller should stay twenty to thirty yards behind you. If a turkey stops short of the calling, he should be within range of the shooter.
You don’t hear a lot about gobbling while hunting. The main reason is safety. Gobbling creates an audio illusion that a turkey hunter is actually the target species. I definitely would not recommend gobbling in a heavily pressured public area. There is just too much potential danger. That being said, it’s not completely safe on private land either. Just because you are the only person with permission to hunt an area doesn’t mean someone else isn’t trespassing. However, gobbling is very effective mostly because it isn’t overused. By the end of the turkey season many gobblers have probably heard every mass produced call on the market.
Gobbling can help locate toms but the real magic happens when a bird hangs up. There are times that no matter how much you yelp, purr, and cuss at a gobbler he won’t budge. Gobbling will usually get him fired up enough to close the distance. This is especially true if he’s heard plenty of hen talk before the gobbling. This scenario will get a gobbler’s competitive juices flowing. There are two ways to gobble effectively. Some hunters are skilled enough to gobble using just their voice. For those not that talented, gobble shakers are easy to use and produce consistent gobbles. Here’s a short video of a gobble shaker in action.
These methods may not be for everyone. But if the season is winding down and you’re faced with a not-so-hearty meal of tag soup, turning up the heat may reverse your fortunes. At the very least it’s a more exciting way to fail. Good luck this season!
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