Every year when spring rolls around, hunters return to their neon green fields and woods, dressed head-to-toe in Realtree Camo. They are chasing the flop, and it is addicting, to some even more so than deer hunting. What makes it so enjoyable? Turkey hunting can go right, or it can go wrong fast…it’s difficult and easy at the same time, all depending on your actions. Communicating with and decoying in a Tom is extremely satisfying. Add the gobble, spit, and drumming into a hunting situation and it’s one of the most thrilling experiences a hunter will come across. The one thing about turkey hunting that we come to love is that it directly tests your ability as an outdoorsmen and turkey hunter. Do you have what it takes to kill a long beard this turkey season?
The turkey hunting itch begins as early as February for some. When it comes, don’t ignore it…scratch that itch! The best way is with pre-season scouting. Earlier in the year during the late winter, you will be looking for the flock. Scout food sources such as mast bearing (acorn filled) hardwood flats, cut grain fields, and pastures for tracks, droppings, and scratching. “Set up some trail cameras in some areas where you think they might be feeding“– Nick Mundt. Locating the flock with this tactic gives you the general area, but later in the year you will focus more on locating gobblers to hunt.
Take advantage of days off work, weekend days, and any hours you get free. If you’re off work on a rainy day, use it to scout! “Especially when you’re hunting eastern turkeys, rainy days means they like to come out on the fields. I don’t know if they feel more comfortable out in the open or safer out there, but that’s a good time to take a cruise around if you’ve got some open fields and find where you’ve got groups of turkeys.” -Nick Mundt.
By far the easiest way to kill a gobbler in the spring is finding his roost the night before. Use your pre-season scouting observations to key in on a general area where the turkey might be spending the night. When you get off work, hop in the Bad Boy Buggy and head to the woods. Without spooking the bird get within earshot, and listen for wings flapping and light calling as turkeys fly up on their roosts for the night. You can also use an owl or crow locator call to get a tom to gobble on the roost as its just turning dark. “Since there’s no leaves on the trees… you can cover ground at dark and see them in the trees and hear where they’re roosting”-Nick Mundt. By getting in close to observe and listen to a tom on the roost you will know exactly when and where to be the next morning.
Wake up early and walk in the cover of darkness, not using a light, and set up close to the tree. Call to the tom lightly after he begins to talk on the roost. If you let him know there is a hen below in your direction he will come and investigate. If you are not the best at the “turkey talk” there is still hope with this tactic. “ Roost the gobbler in the afternoon but the next morning concentrate on finding the hen group closest to that roost, place yourself between the tom and the hen group and be patient, he will come” –Nick Mundt.
Break out the Hoyt
If you are looking for new property’s to hunt this year try bow hunting. Farmers and land owners will much more likely concede to letting you turkey hunt with your Hoyt Bow or Killer Instinct Crossbow, rather than a gun. This will also present a challenge in itself. When your bow hunting, you will most likely need a blind to get away with the movement of preparing for the shot and drawing back.
When using a blind and a bow “set your decoys up quite a bit closer, and when you’re shooting them with a bow, a lot of times you’ve got to be pretty precise with your shot, and I feel like it’s easier to make a really good shot when the decoys are close. I like to set my decoys no more than 10 yards and that way, especially in a blind, you can let the turkey come in close.” -Nick Mundt.
Using “turkey talk” is the number one way to kill a big long beard. Turkey calling is turkey hunting 101. “Sweet yearning, seductive sounds of very excited lonesome hen turkey…that is what we are trying to achieve here” – Michael Waddell. Learning this talk, and learning how to sound like that lonesome hen is achieved after a couple years of turkey hunting, but getting the right call can cut that time in half.
Using the Dual Threat Glass and Slate Turkey Pot Call or the Switchblade 3-in-1 Turkey Box Call will be much easier to master rather than going to the field for the first time with a diaphragm call. Once you have the right call, you need to learn how to use it correctly.
Pairing the calls up with the real thing or at least make them think it is by using a decoy is how you bring a tom (or a lot of them) into range. What turkey decoy type should you use?
“A lot of times if you’re using a Jake decoy, a turkey will strut in with slow movements, he’s not really jumpy. I think when you use a stutter decoy, sometimes those turkeys come in and they’re on edge…shying away from the gobbler. So sometimes the Jake in the pre-breeding position is the one to use. I also like to take a set of wings from a turkey and zip tie them to the side of a decoy. It gives it a little more dimension and realism. It gives you a good bit of cover when you want to crawl in on some turkeys that are in a field”– Nick Mundt.
While stutters and Jake decoys might result in a shy uncooperative bird, you can never really go wrong with a single hen decoy.
Get out of your state
Do not limit yourself to turkey hunting in only one state. Each state brings different birds, different scenarios, and different thrills. Your tip here is to explore your options! “I like South Dakota because there’s liberal bag limits in South Dakota. You can shoot a turkey in the Black Hills, you can get an archery tag, and then you can get prairie tags. Oftentimes there’s leftovers in those units, and you can get leftover tags in those prairie units. On top of that in South Dakota, we have the opportunity to shoot three species. We have Rio’s, Merriam’s, and in the eastern part of the state we have Eastern’s. It gives us a chance to hunt three different species in one state. The turkey hunting is very good with great numbers, not tons of pressure, and have several Indian reservations that have good turkey hunting…so it’s possible to take a lot of turkeys in South Dakota.” – Nick Mundt.
Contact us about booking your next turkey hunt here in beautiful Illinois.