The plan when spring turkey hunting is to locate a gobbler, slip within a couple of hundred yards before daylight and sweetly call to whip the bird into a state of excitement. If the plan works, the bird will thunder back, fly down from his roost and strut within 40 yards of the waiting hunter. Plans often fail.
As the season progresses gobblers often stop responding to calls. This can happen for a number of reasons: gobblers are henned up and unwilling to leave a sure thing; they’ve been pressured by other hunters and have become call shy; or just not responding for whatever reasons that gobblers quit gobbling.
Nobody knows why gobblers just hush up for periods of time in the spring. During this time hunters can either head home and wait for the gobblers to get active again, or they can try something different and stay in the woods hunting.
Two techniques that are effective during times of silence are the ambush and the cut ‘n’ run. These strategies are on opposite sides of the table, but one or the other should suit the abilities of most hunters.
Have Some Patience
Deer hunters who love to sit in a stand waiting for a trophy to pass would be excellent candidates for the ambush style of turkey hunting. It’s really pretty simple. The hunter scouts the area and finds a place where turkeys often visit – feeding areas, dusting holes and strutting zones.
Strutting zones are the best spots to ambush gobblers. All turkeys feed on nuts, seeds, grasses and insects, and dust themselves with dirt to remove parasites. However, only gobblers search out areas where they can strut and gobble to impress and woo the hens.
Look for flat, open stretches of ground with tracks going in both directions and lines in the dirt where the gobbler’s wings scrape the ground as he struts. Any openings
that cross a hill such as logging roads, fields and cutovers are good places to look. Gobblers like to shout their message from a high vantage point where the hens will hear them.
When a likely place is found, set up in a safe position where the opening is visible and wait until a gobbler comes strolling by.
Keep em’ moving
Another strategy when gobblers aren’t responding to calls is the cut ‘n’ run. The cut ‘n’ run is a way of locating a wild turkey gobbler. This aggressive tactic requires lots of walking, location swapping and assertive calling to locate a lonely gobbler that is willing to talk.
Slip through the woods quietly but rapidly, and call often with a series of yelps and cutts on a loud, high-volume call. A locator call – mimicking a crow, owl, peacock or coyote – works as well, but will sometimes get a response, or shock gobble, even if the gobbler isn’t lonely.
After finding the bird, set up, call and hunt just as if he had been roosted the night before. Use yelps, cutts and purrs to seduce that trophy within gun range.
Listen for a turkey to gobble and quickly decide whether to close the distance or set up immediately. This is probably the toughest time of turkey hunting. The hunter has to decide if the turkey is answering but not coming, or even coming in silent. The wrong decision can be disastrous to a hunt, but with failure comes experience.
While decoys can be used in the cut ‘n’ run set up, some hunters leave them home on those days. Items in the vest can add weight quickly when trudging miles through the woods, and repeatedly setting up and taking down decoys can become a real chore.
When using a technique like the cut ‘n’ run, safety and outdoor knowledge are especially important.
Keep a close watch on your surroundings and know who or what is in the woods. Move only when you’re sure there are no other hunters about. Also, set up with a wide tree as a backstop and a field of view of at least 100 yards.
There is always the chance of coming across other hunters in the woods, especially if hunting public land. Hunt defensively and always identify the target before shooting. If you slip up on a turkey in the woods; remember, it could be another hunter’s decoy.
Quiet Time was last modified: January 29th, 2018 by Bill Winke