Toms in rolling timber can be a challenge. Especially if they are of the hard-beaked Eastern variety. They will pull you along on a wild goose chase each morning as they bounce from ridge to ridge, becoming ever more unpredictable. How do you win this battle? You head for the high ground.
Pro Staffers Jeff Nelson and Tim Monicken deal with ridge top longbeards all the time in western Wisconsin. Nelson and Monicken rely on one ridge that runs through the middle of the farm. Nelson told me about one particular hunt where they bagged a bird off this ridge.
“We got to the property well before daylight and headed for our spot – a wooded ridge that runs east and west. We waited just outside the timber in a field edge until the birds flew down. When they hit the ground we headed for a part of the ridge that has the least amount of angle. Once set up we had a tom sound off at 400 yards. To our surprise the sound of his gobble kept getting closer and closer. About halfway in he went quiet. Thinking we were out of luck Tim and I began talking about picking up the decoys, but gave it a little longer. I was looking at my phone when suddenly I heard a putt, followed by the sound of the gun! By the time I looked up, Tim had a turkey flopping on the ground.”
How it works
Toms in the spring would rather strut in open timber, where they can be seen by other turkeys. Valleys will get choked out by vegetation before the ridge tops as the woods green up. High spots will also draw more sunlight than valleys. Toms will favor these areas after pitching down in the morning because they warm up faster. Turkeys will also pitch down on the side-hills of a ridge because they don’t have to fly as far. Calling from the ridge top to these birds will work better because the tom can’t see you. He will be forced to crest the ridge within easy gun range to get a glimpse of the “fake” hen you are trying to imitate.
Tips on Hunting High
If you watch turkeys enough you’ll notice that they generally roost in the tallest trees overlooking valleys. Turkeys rely on sight, so roosting high ensures they will see any approaching danger. To outsmart them it’s a good idea to let the birds pitch down before trying to set up on a ridge top.
If you want to risk it-make sure to roost them the night before. Then head in extra early the next morning to avoid spooking them.
Ridge tops with rock bluffs serve as excellent funnels. Birds will favor climbing up the ridge on the flattest incline possible. If you can identify these areas prior to the hunt, you will know where to set up when that tom answers below.
When you find yourself in rolling timber, head for the high ground. You just might cross paths with an old gobbler up there.
High Ground Hunting was last modified: February 9th, 2017 by Bill Winke