BARE BONES HUNTING by Lou Marullo

TEXAS TACTICAL by Dustin Ellermann
April 10, 2018
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE Feature by Matt Williams
April 10, 2018

It’s Turkey Time in Texas

T URKEY TIME WILL SOON BE here, and that means it is time to start preparing for your successful hunt and a delicious turkey dinner!

I absolutely love turkey season. I think it is because you do not hunt the bird; he hunts for you! When you use a turkey call to sound like a lone hen looking for love, that tom turkey will sound off with a loud gobble.

Let the games begin!

It does not matter whether your choice of weapon is the bow or gun, the rules of this game remain the same. First and foremost, you need to locate the flocks. Most hunters simply drive the back roads and stop once in a while, shut the vehicle off, call and listen for a response.

I like to go a step further and get off the pavement to find a roosting spot. A turkey might not use the same tree every night to roost, but he should be in the general area. Certainly, he would be close enough to hear a hen call.

Once I find an area with many droppings and signs of turkeys scratching the ground in search of a meal, I make a mental note of the area and then leave. Too many times, a hunter will call the turkey during the pre-season and wait until he comes in, just for the excitement of seeing the bird.

Well, all you did was educate that turkey to the sound of your fake call. That will make it harder for you to fool him when the season actually begins.

If you find where turkeys have scratched the ground, you will see that it is always in a V shape. That useful information will tell you what direction the birds are heading. The point of the V is the way they are traveling. You can plan a nice ambush spot for the next time.

A turkey’s main defense is its amazing eyesight, then its hearing. I think that if a turkey could smell, we would never get them. If they see the slightest movement that’s out of place, the familiar “put put” sound will alarm the rest of the birds, and the entire flock will run for the hills…so to speak.

Hunting out of a portable blind is really the best way to be successful. Any movement you make is hidden, and it is a great tool if you want to bring a young hunter with you. Many times, a child will move out of boredom and swear he or she is not moving at all.

Hunting out of a portable blind, the child will be able to watch other animals in the woods without being detected, and that will stir their interest even more for the outdoor world.

I do not have an explanation for this, but you can set a portable blind up in the middle of a field, place a few decoys around you, and the turkeys will come right to you. The blind does not bother them at all.

As a matter of fact, I once had a tom brush his wing feathers along the outside wall of the blind I was in. For a minute, I thought he was going to stick his head in the window to say hello.

I was hunting with my bow that morning, and believe it or not, he was too close for me to shoot. I had to wait until he walked closer to my decoys and away from the blind.

Another big mistake that turkey hunters make is that they call too often and much too loud. I would recommend you listen to the pros call on Youtube or on a turkey hunting DVD. You will learn the many different calls the birds use. Better yet, go hide in the woods and just listen. The vocalization of a turkey is soft except for the gobble.

The yelp is the most used call during this time of year. Super easy to do on a box call. You cannot miss with this call. It might be the only one you can master, but it will be all you need.

The cluck is the sound of a relaxed turkey. You must be careful, however, so you do not sound like a put, which, as I said earlier, is their warning call. The cackle is the sound of an excited hen.

Sometimes they use this call when the birds fly down from the tree in the early morning hours. The purr is followed by a soft cluck that lets the tom know the hen is ready “Come find me!”

The kee-kee run, or lost turkey call, is not usually used in the spring.

There are many different calls to try, the box call, push button calls, wing bone calls and also diaphragm calls with different configurations. Some have two or three latex pieces.

Some have split latex and some have the latex cut in a v shape. They all sound different. You can sound like a young hen or a raspy old boss hen. These calls can be a little difficult to use and require some practice—away from the wife!

Here is a little trick to remember. If the tom turkey is already with a group of hens, you will not be able to call him into your set-up. But you may be able to call the hens to you, and the tom will follow.

Most of the time, when you try to call the hens in, the boss hen will purposely lead the flock away from you, and they will follow her. She will be the call that sounds raspy and will be easily distinguishable from the other turkeys.

When you hear her call, interrupt her with a call of your own. Make it sound raspy and that you mean business. She will probably call over and over, and you should interrupt her every time.

Nine times out of ten, she will seek out this intruder to give her a piece of her mind. The important thing is that she will also drag that tom along with her and— Game Over!

Good luck next month. Remember to have fun and hunt safe.

 

Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]

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