Ready for a new challenge? The up-close nature of archery brings new adventure and tactics to hunting sharp-eyed wild turkeys. Here are six things to know about hunting turkeys with a stick and string:
Entering spring can come with unexpected weather patterns, but don’t be thrown off guard. Instead, expect a tough hunt and pack accordingly. Make sure to practice shooting your bow with your gear on.
After winter, flocks are usually starting to disperse from their traditional winter roosting spots and head to breeding areas, although sometimes storm patterns can reverse that trend. Pecking orders will be re-established, gobbler groups are constantly fighting and hens dominated most of the conversations on the roost and the ground. This behavior means changing your hunting tactics, hunting routes will become more important than calling.
When flock dynamics are in flux, a different bird may be in charge each morning. If you initial set up is a failure, have a backup blind set up in a late-morning spot, usually a field where birds are feeding, scratching or dusting. Do your homework, pre-scouting is essential for success.
When birds sporadically move throughout the area, it may be difficult to know which pin to use, especially if there is a blanket of snow on the ground. Archers know judging distance is critical for accurate shot placement. Measure and mark known distances using rocks, sticks or trees.
During early season archery, calling comes down to individual birds. Some toms will gobble their heads off, while others may make a lot of noise but stick to their route. Also, calling too much sometimes agitates hens. Annoying her may get her to bring the flock for an argument, but enraging her usually means you’ll watch dozens of birds march away from your setup.
Just like calling, be flexible when using decoys as a birds reaction may differ. Sometimes groups of gobblers are too busy fighting to take on a full strutter on display. Dominate hens may also be offended by decoys that don’t toe the line when challenged at a distance. Watch the bird’s body language to see if decoys can help or hurt the hunt.
When hunting a new season and using new equipment, be prepared to use new hunting tactics and strategy. Remember that as the days warm up and the snow melts, flocks start to break up and things can change rapidly. Don’t be afraid to make changes yourself.