My dad started taking me hunting on our family farm in Northeast Missouri well before I was old enough to carry a weapon. Turkey’s weren’t as thick on the farm back then. We tromped from boundary to boundary, chasing every gobble we heard. Finally, we managed to kill a couple during my first spring with a hunting license. Trial and error taught us a ton but when I look back at it-learning to hunt the farm was just as important as learning to hunt the turkeys.
Knowing the lay of the land is crucial when hunting any type of game. Something is more likely to go wrong when hunting on ground you’re not familiar with.
I was hunting a new property in 2004 and had a tom coming in on a string, right off the roost. He was getting close but hung up just out of sight. After waiting nearly an hour, the tom headed the other direction. I stood up in frustration and stomped over to where he was gobbling only to find an old woven wire fence. The tom apparently made it to the fence and hung up behind it. Had I known that fence was there, I could have altered my setup to avoid the obstacle.
The next season after my debacle with the fence, my friends and I found ourselves in the same location on a gobbling tom. This time we started on his side of the fence. Thirty minutes later, my buddy had a bird flopping in the decoys.
This can happen with any kind of barrier-be it a fence, ditch, road, fallen tree, or body of water. To avoid this problem, go out and walk the property. Obstacles can ruin your hunt if you don’t know where they are-but if you do, they can act as funnels to push game in a favorable direction.
Success usually comes from being in the right spot. Many times, that is as close to the gobbling bird as possible.
It’s easier to maneuver on turkeys in rolling timber. When a tom ends up on a side-hill, you can use the back of the ridge to close the distance. If he is in a valley, swing around the end of the ridge to get in tight. Remember, a tom’s line of sight is much lower than ours. He could spot you if approaching on a flat plane.
Shallow creeks and ditches work great for the same purpose. Before the season begins, scout the creek for log jams, rock bars, and shallow areas so you know where to cross if need be.
These spots can be tricky to hunt because turkeys may roost over the creek. Wait for the birds to fly down and determine which side of the creek they’re on. Then use the creek to close the distance for a setup. Since you are approaching the bird below his line of sight, he won’t be able to spot you. Click here to see a hunt from last year where a creek helped us bag a big tom.
In my book, knowing the land is an important and overlooked tool in the turkey woods. You will be surprised how much these scouting tips increase your success this spring.
Learning the Terrain was last modified: January 29th, 2018 by Bill Winke