IT’S TURKEY TIME IN TEXAS!
As far as this writer is concerned, turkey season could not come fast enough. As the years creep up on me and I become a little older—I mean a little more “distinguished”—I find that having the birds hunt for me is a lot more fun than me sitting for hours in a tree stand doing the hunting.
Let me explain.
When we go hunting for turkeys, we try to make the sweetest sounds that a hen can make to entice a gobbler to come looking for some action. With the right calling sequence and if a tom turkey responds, the hunt begins, for both you and the bird.
It’s a sit and wait game for you that sometimes could take an hour or more before any action begins. For the gobbler, it is a sit and wait game as well, until he cannot take the wait any longer and decides to “hunt” for his girl.
How do you find a gobbler in the first place?
I am sure you have read about how a gobbler will answer a hen call, or respond to an owl hoot, or even sound off at the call of a nearby crow. All of this is true some of the time, but nothing works all of the time.
In the right situation, turkeys will shock gobble at just about anything. More than once I have shut the door of my truck, and a gobbler gave his location away. Hmmm, someone should make a call that sounds like that!
I have also had birds gobble at a crow call, but still have had no luck with an owl hoot. One day, after watching a tom turkey fly up to his roost for the night, I made my plans for an exciting morning hunt. I knew right where that bird was, so the morning found me nestled up against a tree waiting for sunrise.
In the pitch black of the pre-dawn, I tried to make out a shape of a turkey in the same tree he roosted in, but it was so dark, I could not say for sure whether he was there or not. So, I thought I would bring out my owl hooter and give it a try.
After a few calls with no response I thought the turkey must have changed locations. Finally, as it started to get closer to sunrise, I could see the silhouette of a sleepy turkey that was just starting to wake. Once again, I hooted and once again, no response. Someday, someone will find that owl hooter on the hillside where I threw it out of frustration.
Some hunters like to hunt turkeys out of a pop-up blind while others prefer to choose the “run and gun” method. I do not have a preference either way.
For me, it all depends on what I am hunting with. If I choose to hunt with my bow, then I feel it is a must to hunt out of a portable blind. You can make the movement of drawing your bow back without being detected.
The turkeys are not at all concerned about the new tent in the woods. The disadvantage is if you decide to move, you have to carry the blind, chair and anything else you brought on the hunt to a new location and then set it all up again.
Not this child!
Once I set up a pop-up blind, I stay right there and try to call the birds in. I just think it is way too much noise and movement to relocate. Also, chances are high that you will be seen by any nearby turkeys that may be coming in silently.
The popular method of running and gunning is good if you are a gun hunter. Here, you go to a spot in the woods, call a little bit, then wait and listen for any response. If there is no gobble, then you can decide to either stay there a little longer, or move on to a different location and try calling again.
It is natural for the gobbler to gobble in his tree to let the hens know where he is. Unfortunately, nine out of ten times, the tom will roost near some hens and it will not take more than just a few minutes for the hens to locate him once he flies down.
Once he is with his hens, he is, what hunters commonly refer to being “henned up.” It is very difficult, if not impossible, to call him away from the hens.
In the early morning hours, if I hear other hens are with the gobbler, I will interrupt the boss hen whenever she makes a call by calling louder. On many occasions, the boss hen gets agitated and comes looking for the hen that dares to interrupt her. As she heads towards my call, she will drag along the other hens and the gobbler that’s with them.
Viola! Turkey dinner baby!
It is not normal for the tom to come to the hen, but fortunately for us hunters, he—like any male—will come searching for the female if he is alone. For this reason, some hunters like to go out mid-morning after the hens have headed to their nests.
The toms are now alone searching for another hen. Many times, if you hear a response to your calls at 10 in the morning, get ready. He is coming in and coming in fast.
Use a decoy to make sure the tom focuses on that instead of your calling location. Flambeau makes one that has realistic movements. Not only can you control the movement of the fan, but with this decoy, you also can make the fake bird move up to 90 degrees. Movement of your decoy could very well be the final straw that will fool that turkey and be the cause of that gobbler’s demise.
Hey! It is turkey time. Get out there and enjoy and do not forget to bring along your ThermaCell unit to keeps the bugs at bay.
Have fun and hunt safe!
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]