This month we will continue our three part series on spring turkey hunting. I will provide some suggestions as to what to carry in your turkey vest, discuss the importance of decoys and proper set up and give you some field tactics to help you become more successful.
Get a vest that has plenty of pockets and an attached seat cushion. The outside pockets should contain items used frequently during your hunt; turkey & locator calls, facemask, gloves, topo map & GPS.
- Calls: turkey and locator
- Decoys – store in back pouch
- Facemask & gloves
- Folding saw & ratchet cutters – use to trim branches
- Trail markers – mark path to pre-chosen set up area when dark
- Orange flagging
- Compass, Topo maps, GPS
- Water, T.P. and Cough drops
- Rain gear
- Hand-held radio and headlamp
- License, pen & twist-tie (for tagging your birds)
Decoys & Set-up
I like to use a three decoy spread: jake, alert hen and feeding hen. I set my jake decoy 12 yards out and to my left (left hand shooters set to right). I place the hen decoys no further than 20 yards in front of my chosen set up tree. I use my folding saw and ratchet cutters to cut branches to create a ground blind. . just enough to break up my outline. Also, cut away low branches from set up tree for a clear shooting lane. I sit facing slightly to the right of my decoy set up. This gives you full 180 degree coverage of the shooting zone.
Note: Mature gobblers do not like jakes hanging around hens and will come in to charge the jake decoy. This gives you a nice close shot at a gobbler.
- Use owl & coyote locator calls in early am or dusk. Use crow call mid-day.
- Turkeys have tremendous hearing. Use that to your advantage. They, as we, are two legged creatures. In the woods, walk like a turkey. Take small steps.
- Scratch in the leaves with your feet. Use your hat and beat it slightly against your leg to sound like a turkey flexing its wings. Use you mouth call to make the soft PUTT call as you walk. These are things turkeys do as they travel through the woods.
- Stop and call (yelp) every 25 – 30 yards. Also, use your binoculars to spot birds that may be way ahead of you. Before you make your call, look for a set up tree. You just may trigger a nearby tom and you will have to sit down and be ready quickly.
- If you see turkeys at a distance in an open area, watch to see where they move as they feed and where they enter and leave the area. Also note the time of day. You can use that to your advantage in setting up an ambush point.
- Look for possible roost sites with significant droppings and feathers. This would be a great area to set up for an evening or early morning hunt. Your set up should be a minimum of 100 yards from the roosting area to avoid spooking the birds.
- Do not "over call" if you get a response gobble. This is the biggest error turkey hunters make. Remember, the natural process is for the tom to call the hen(s) to him. We are reversing the process by trying to get the tom to come to the hen (us). When you get a responding gobble, call once more, facing away from where you heard the gobble. Then shut up. He may continue to gobble or he just may come in silently. Be sure to have your gun mounted and ready to shoot. Last thing: DO NOT MOVE. Turkeys will spot that and you’ll be busted!
CJ & Shawnee