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Turkey Season '05 - What did you learn?

9 posts in this topic

So while you're pitching jigs, dragging spinner rigs, or out with the fly rod........I think this is the best time of year to reflect on lessons from the not so recent turkey season. It's close enough, yet far enough past, you know?

Some years ago, I seemed to start realizing that the same mistakes were made from year to year. I still do to some extent, but at least I now have ample literature and yearly reminders to beat myself up with.

So what did everyone learn? I'll start:

1. Sometimes it's best to abandon what has traditionally always been a "sure bet", for greener/newer pastures.

2. Never underestimate a turkey's ability to hear your calling, even soft calling from long distances. Addendum: Never underestimate a turkey's ability to pinpoint you if you keep calling.

3. For heavily pressured birds, no calling can sometimes be the best calling.

4. Cold mornings (<35 degrees) in the spring can mean little to no gobbling. Hit it hard when the sun climbs over the valley walls and hits the trees.

5. Calling to groups of birds often requires purring. When birds are in plain sight, avoid loud yelps/agressive calling.

6. Go with your gut. We roosted one bird.....heard a single gobble.....nothing else at this one spot. Next morning a buddy killed a tom with 6 big-bearded buddies. They were there, just not responding to our locator calls.

Joel

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Lesson #1 - If you bring some munchies and drinks in a camoflage cooler, make sure the INSIDE of the cooler lid is camoflaged too. A second lesson to be learned here is to carefully scan the area around you for birds before reaching your hand down to get a drink.

Lesson #2 - If you hear a bird responding to your calls and he sounds close and then you look at your watch and see that there are only 15 minutes left to hunt....DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GO AFTER THE TURKEY!! Stay where you are and hope he comes in before shooting hours are over. If he doesn't, try again tomorrow. You may want to reconsider if it is the last day though.

Lesson #3 - If you go trout fishing after shooting hours are over, avoid steep banks.

Lesson #4 - If you sprain your ankle while trout fishing (see lesson #3), don't give up. If you can still drag yourself on your belly then you can still hunt.

Lesson #5 - If you are bored, practice calls that you are not good at. You may be surprised at what happens.

Lesson #6 - This is the most important of all. If you are camping in a tent out in a pasture with a 7 hour drive between you and your house, DO NOT FORGET TO BRING YOUR PILLOW! It is really hard to sleep outdoors on an air matress without one. Trust me on this.

For a more detailed version of these lessons, see the thread "Stories from the hunt '05" page 5 on this forum.

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If you get cold don't leave your decoys there and go across the field to warm up. Chances are there will be a nice tom sitting there when you look back over there.

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Don't leave a spot that you heard gobbling at, after it stopped for 2 hours and you decide to take a walk, find another bird, have a farmer mess that one up, go back, there will be 3 big toms standing in your decoys. I wouldnt be so sure, but it happened back to back days.

Birds don't always gobble on the way in, be ready at any time.

Don't stay out till 2 in the morning the night before ur first day.

An Observation- You will always see more deer while turkey hunting than you will deer while deer hunting, and Vise Versa.

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1. Don't forget the tick spray.

During our hunt the ticks were incredibly thick, and standard bug dope just wasn't doing the trick. It cut down the numbers, but we were still picking them off constantly.

2. The water level in creeks is always an inch higher than your boots, or the creeks are a foot wider than your best long jumping efforts.

Trailing the gobbler that Jr. ended up shooting the following day, the lay of the land with the winding creek and scattered trees meant we had to cross the creek about 10 times. We were soaked...

3. Wild dogs are a menace to everything.

There were a couple of them on the first day who absolutely screwed up the area - chasing turkeys into flight, chasing deer up and down the hills, and baring their teeth when I finally had enough and headed 'em off at the pass. They were convinced to leave. Moral of story: run quickly and carry a BIG stick.

4. When in doubt - stay put!

Just prior to Jr.'s turkey popping out, I had a turkey coming down the treeline behind me, another one out in the fog working in, and the bird Jr. would soon shoot had been quiet for nearly 10 minutes. Was he coming? Had he left? A little voice in my head was screaming to get Jr.'s attention and reposition him toward the two I was sure were still coming in - but I kept quiet... As the little voice started to get the best of me, and our window of opportunity to reposition was rapidly closing, Jr.'s turkey stepped out of the tall grass and the rest is history. Had we moved, we would have been busted for sure.

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I really didn't learn but am more convinced that time in the woods is key and you have to find a bird that is in the right mood. If you do, its almost too easy, if you don't, its about impossible. Woodsmanship is also key, calling is about last on the list. Scouting might be on the top. They are dumb birds, just have excellent survival senses.

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Location, location, location. Be where (exactly where) the birds are comfortable, and your kill ratio will go up. I really believe it is that simple. Of course, I ain't a turkey (at least not physically) and figuring out that location thing frequently blows my mind.

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Scout, scout, scout, and scout some more. I easily spent ten times longer watching fields before the hunt than I did on the hunt itself. It paid off.

Always, ALWAYS, take one more look around before you decide to move. I have had birds show up several times just about the time I'd had enough and decided to move.

Apply for the hunt and go. It doesn't matter if the weather sucks or you're tired or uncomfortable. My worst day of turkey hunting beats my best day of work, hands down!

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Don't be afraid to go looking for a bird on foot, especially if it's windy. If you hear a bird that's a long ways a way, go after him if he's not beyond where you have permission & try to setup in front of where he's headed. If you can't get really close to him due to permission, get as close as you can & then call him. I agree on the comments about applying & just hunt hard. You'll learn on the fly & time & effort will pay off as long as there are birds in the area.

Also it's a lot of fun, but I still like bowhunting whitetails better & maybe summer fishing walleyes as well. You have to evaluate what you'd most like to spend that hard earned vacation on.

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