Every turkey hunter can tell you a story about a monster long beard that would strut and gobble in the middle of a field that they could never kill.
It would seem this field bird would be the easiest to kill since he is in the field almost every day spitting, drumming and gobbling to beat the band. But, if you have hunted turkeys for any length of time, you know this is a very uphill battle.
I will go over a few tips to help you jelly head that big field tom this season.
- Find his enter and exit locations. Most gobblers will travel in and out of a field close to the same areas. If you have access to the land, try and find his tracks or droppings showing how he is getting to the field.
- Get there early. If you put the bird to bed on the edge of a field, you need to get there super early the next morning. When I say early, I mean in complete darkness. Make sure that you NEVER, EVER turn on a flashlight or your cell phone. The last thing you need is a bird on the edge of a field to be suspicious before fly down and already know you are there.
- Decoys, use A LOT of them. I use an Avian X quarter strut jake and an Avian X breeder hen 90% of the time when I am turkey hunting. But, these slick field gobblers require a bit more deception. When I say A LOT, I mean 6 or more. It sounds like a duck spread, but these field birds have seen your jake and hen or full strutter and hen already. I will deploy all Avian X decoys and I use 2 feeder hens, 1 breeder hen, 1 Quarter strut jake, 1 half strut jake and an full strut gobbler with a real turkey fan. I try and set these up to be as visible as possible in an area where my hide will be in the shade and I can see most of the field.
- Gobble Tube. I know some hunters refuse to carry a gobble tube and that is your prerogative. In this situation where I am targeting a specific long beard, I will use a gobble tube. When I see the gobbler in the field, I will start cutting and yelping aggressively on my Zink Power Hen Aluminum friction call and a Zink’s Matt Morrett triple reed snake cut diaphragm call. The aluminum has a higher pitch and is louder in my opinion than a slate or crystal call. I will try and alternate between the 2 calls to give the illusion of several hens are at the party. As I am cutting, I will cut off those calls with a series of gobbles from my tube. If I get ANY reaction from the tom in the field, he is killable in my mind. Curious, mad or in love, the old bird will make his way to check out the new click of guys and gals in his favorite strut zone.
- They get hot. Turkeys have practically black feathers and get hot pretty quick. If it is a warm to hot day in Texas, these gobblers won’t stay in the field for very long. So capitalize on the fact he will be looking for love while he is there. When he decides to leave the field, it will likely be for shade and water. If you can set up on a bottle neck leading out of the field, you may very well catch him trying to slip out the back door.
Ok, I know you might be thinking, Shane some of that sounds crazy, I don’t even own 6 turkey decoys. I know some of it does, but these ideas have given a free ride in the back of my Z71 to several field long beards. If the old tried and true methods were working, he would already be dead and he won’t be out there strutting again tomorrow morning. But, you and I both know he will be there.
Give these a try and you will probably be surprised how well they work and how the turkeys you kill will be 3 year olds and up. Everyone likes to see those true limb hanger spurs and these loner field gobblers are often the trophy long beards we all covet.
G’ Luck Texas Nation
Story by Shane Smith