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Turkey Hunting

Use Trail Cams to Find Gobblers

Trail cams aren’t just for deer. Turkey hunters are making them part of their spring-scouting tool kit for good reason.
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Fake a Fight to Bring in Toms

When early-season toms are still duking it out, staging a mock battle can bring one running to your setup.
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  • March 13, 2013

    Turkey Hunting: Fall Turkey Tactics for Spring Gobblers in Flocks

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    By Scott Bestul

    Spring gobbler hunters may be well prepared for opening day, but the turkeys are not always ready to accommodate us. After being separated in same-sex groups for most of the winter, hens and gobblers mingle in early spring to sort out pecking orders prior to breeding—and they are often still at it when the season starts. So instead of working a single gobbler, you’re faced with a whole flock of turkeys.

    This may seem like a blessing, but taking a bird from a flock is tougher than fooling a lone tom. It can be done, however, if you employ strategies used by fall turkey hunters, who face similar problems. Here are three tactics: [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 13, 2013

    Turkey Hunting: How to Hunt Gobblers in Rain, Wind, Snow, or Unseasonably Hot Weather

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    By M.D. Johnson

    In most states, the turkey opener teeters on the cusp of spring, when early-season weather is unpredictable. You’re as apt to freeze as you are to sweat; as likely to face high winds as to get soaked in a downpour. But rain needn't drown your hopes. Snow shouldn't blanket your enthusiasm. You can score in virtually any weather by tailoring your hunting tactics to the conditions. Here’s how.

    Day 1: Heavy Rains
    Turkeys don’t mind light showers, but a hard rain curbs gobbling and may even silence toms completely. Birds often seek overhead shelter.

    Hunting Tactics: During the downpour, slowly walk the edges of pine stands and other sheltered areas, stopping frequently to make hen calls. As soon as the rain abates, work field edges and logging roads where turkeys go to dry off and pick bugs.

    Best Calls: Yelp on a wet-playing box call to strike a bird. Then switch to soft clucks and purrs on a wet-playing slate. [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 13, 2013

    Turkey Hunting: Pro Scouting Tips for Finding Quiet Gobblers

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    By Scott Bestul

    Of course you’ve been out roosting turkeys. That’s what everyone does before the opener. But waking birds up and putting them to bed only tells you where they hang out at dusk and dawn.

    If the toms don’t gobble after fly-down during the season, you’re out of luck. The best turkey hunters scour the woods during the preseason to learn where gobblers are apt to be at any hour of the day. Then they can score even when those birds get tight-lipped. Let’s take a look at their secrets. [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 13, 2013

    Turkey Hunting: How to Read Turkey Tracks, Droppings, and Feathers

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    By T. Edward Nickens

    On your preseason scouting trip you don't hear a single gobble, even though it's good turkey country. Should you move on? Not necessarily. It could be that the bird just isn't quite ready to commit to full-throated breeding behavior. Learn these three ways of determining a turkey's gender by the clues it leaves behind and you'll increase your chances of putting your bead on a bird this season.

    Droppings
    Turkey droppings are easiest to find on bare ground, especially in dusting areas or in scratchings. Droppings from a gobbler are elongated and measure about 2 inches, with a J-hook or clublike bulb on one end. Those from a hen are often more globular and spiral-or popcorn-shaped.

    Tracks
    Turkeys have three toes, and those of a gobbler are longer. Any track that's more than 4 inches from the heel to the tip of the middle toe is likely from a gobbler. Pay special attention to tracks that show clear segmentation between the toe joints. It takes a heavy bird to push a foot that deeply into the soil. Could be the boss.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 12, 2013

    Turkey Hunting: Three Ways to Hunt Gobblers Out In Fields

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    By M.D. Johnson

    Field-loving longbeards can drive you mad. They seem so vulnerable, loafing there in plain sight.

    Yet in fact they’re very tough to get close to, and just as difficult to call in from a long distance. You can put your tag on a wide-open gobbler, however, by using one of these three tricks.

    1. Use a Field Blind 

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 12, 2013

    Turkey Hunting: Hunt Mid-Morning Gobblers Over Mock Dusting Sites

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    By Travis J. Faulkner

    It was opening week on public land. Several other hunters scratched out overlapping strings of yelps in the near distance. No big deal, I figured. Twenty-five yards away was a mock dusting site I’d made well before the opener. 

    A half hour into the hunt, I heard the low rumble of a longbeard drumming just to my left. I clucked and he gobbled—then stepped through the dust bowl, giving me an easy shot. He was the latest of more than 20 gobblers I’ve taken on public land this way.

    Creating a mock dusting site is simple and can steer even pressured birds right into your lap. Turkeys are creatures of habit. They visit dust bowls on a daily basis to rid themselves of mites. Lonesome longbeards also frequent them to find hens. And the birds are as quick to adopt your mock sites as to use their own. Here’s how to do it: [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 28, 2007

    Turkey Hunting: An Opening Day Plan for Flocked-Up Gobblers

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    By Scott Bestul

    Opening day commonly finds turkeys still hanging out in mixed-sex flocks that roost, feed, and travel together. And while a whole bunch of birds may seem like a blessing, the fact remains that killing one tom usually requires fooling the whole flock. The upside is that grouped-up turkeys have predictable routines, and with a little preseason scouting to learn their daily movements, you can stay one step ahead of them all day long and eventually ambush a gregarious gobbler. Here is your dawn-to-dusk planner.

    1. Dawn
    Early-spring flocks sleep in the same areas—if not the exact same trees—quite regularly, giving you ample opportunity to learn their roosting patterns, including which direction they move in after fly-down. Put them to bed the evening before your hunt. Then return well before dawn and set up on the side of the roost that puts you in their typical lane of travel. Your odds of getting a tom within gun range will skyrocket. [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 31, 2006

    Turkey Hunting: How to Scout With a Spotting Scope and Binoculars

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    By M.D. Johnson

    The key to successful turkey scouting is to never intrude. When opening day arrives, you want each gobbler you've spied on to go about its business just as it did on the days you were watching. That is, you want to leave the bird's world unchanged—until he's standing 25 paces away with his head fixed in your shotgun's sights. [ Read Full Post ]

  • February 28, 2006

    Turkey Hunting: An All-Day Guide to Scouting Spring Gobblers

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    By Phil Bourjaily

    1. Dawn

    Listen: Before you leave home, grab binoculars, a notebook, a topo map, and a GPS. Bring lunch too, since this is an all-day project. At dawn, drive the roads, periodically stopping to listen or to get out of the truck and walk to a high vantage point. Mark the roosted birds you hear on a map or with a GPS. If you hear a bird fly down, listen, or use a crow or owl call to keep him gobbling to learn what route he travels first thing in the morning.

    [ Read Full Post ]

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