During my past 35 years of turkey hunting in Missouri and numerous other states I have had my great days, good days and bad days in the turkey woods. I have tried to always learn something from each time in the woods, great or bad, and what happened to make it a great hunt or a not so great hunt. When I do turkey hunting seminars for Ozark Ridge Calls, I try to always stress that I learn something new each year of turkey hunting if not each hunt. During these seminars I tell them over the years I have learned there are 2 KEY THINGS to becoming a more successful turkey hunter.
Key number one is learning the “language” of the wild turkey. What I mean by that is turkeys have their own language just like ducks, deer and us; they don’t just walk around and randomly make noises it is all with a purpose, so you need to call with purpose. There is the assembly call, lost call, tree calls, mating yelp of the hen, cutting, purrs, putts, clucks, gobbler yelps, fighting purrs, gobble and the list goes on. So the more you know what you are saying to that ole’ gobbler the more likely you are to put your tag on him.
I recommend getting an instructional cd or dvd that explains what the calls are, what they mean and what each call should sound like and listening to it or watching it over and over. For example the assembly call of a hen is a call the hen uses in the fall to tell her young birds to come to her and when used in the spring you are telling that gobbler basically to come to you, you are being that old bossy hen. That may be just what he wants to hear and come marching in like he was told.
Also if you can get a cd that has actual recording of these calls from a wild turkey that is great, not only do you get to hear the calls as they are actually done by a wild hen but you get to hear the rhythm of those calls which is very important also.
Key number two is woodsmanship. What I mean by that is knowing the lay of the land, where the birds want to be, use the terrain to your advantage, when to move and not move on the bird, and anything else you can do while hunting to put the odds in your favor to kill that longbeard. I learned woodsmanship at very young age first by squirrel hunting with my dad and then turkey and deer hunting with him. Really the only way to get better at this is to spend time in the woods, whether it is squirrel hunting, scouting/hunting for deer or turkey or just going for a stroll in the woods to become more familiar with the property you hunt.
That longbeard is on that property(s) day in and day out and he knows all the little ins and out of the land he is living on and so should you if you want to try and put the odds more in your favor of carrying him back to the truck. That can be as simple as knowing where part of an old woven wire fence is still up on the ridge you have set up on and it is between you and that gobbling tom. You know you need to at least get to that old fence so he doesn’t hang up behind it strutting and decide not come on down the ridge to you but wait for that hen to come to him. If you are set up at the fence or at least in shotgun range of the old fence it won’t matter if he hangs up there or not.
Another example of good woodsmanship is knowing when to move on that bird using the terrain of the property you are hunting. You know that bird is heading to a certain spot to strut and you need to get there before him without spooking him so you are able to use the “lay of the land” to get there. Using the hills, hollows, cedar patches or whatever to get there undetected and be ready when you see that big fan pop over the rise. If you are at the right place at the right time turkey hunting seems so much easier.
That is my two tips for today: learn the language of the wild turkey and improve your woodsmanship. Put that to use this spring and you’ll be digging in your pocket for a tag soon.
Ozark Ridge Calls Pro Staff