Set Your Sights on a Gobbler: Quiet Time Strategy
A classic spring turkey hunt requires locating a gobbler in the evening, then setting up on him before daylight the next morning. If the plan works, your calling will whip the bird into a state of excitement. The tom will thunder at you from his tree, fly down from his roost and then strut and gobble until he's within shotgun range.
While they're great when they work, such classic plans often fail.
Often, as the season progresses, gobblers stop responding to calls. They may be henned-up and unwilling to leave a sure thing, they may have been pressured by other hunters or they may have just shut up for no good reason at all. Whatever the reason, gobblers that won't gobble can make classic setups exercises in frustration.
Two quiet time techniques will help you keep hunting when the birds shut up, you can stand hunt for toms or go with the cut `n' run.
Deer hunters who love to sit in a stand waiting for a trophy to pass would be excellent candidates for the stand-style of turkey hunting. It's really pretty simple. The hunter scouts the area and finds a place where turkeys often visit - feeding areas, dusting holes and strutting zones.
Strutting zones are the best spots to setup and wait for gobblers. All turkeys feed on nuts, seeds, grasses and insects, and dust themselves with dirt to remove parasites. However, only gobblers search out areas where they can strut and gobble to impress the hens.
Look for flat, open stretches of ground with tracks going in both directions and lines in the dirt where the gobbler's wings scrape the ground as he struts. Any openings that cross a hill such as logging roads, fields and cutovers are good places to look. Gobblers like to strut in high, open places from where they can be seen by hens.
When a likely place is found, set up in a safe position where the opening is visible and wait until a gobbler comes strolling by. Try calling a little every 20 or 30 minutes to entice nearby gobblers to come your way. A decoy may be a good idea as it acts as a visual beacon for birds passing within sight of your setup. A blind may also help conceal any movement you make from turkeys that are silently approaching.
Keep On Moving
The cut `n' run is another way of locating toms. This aggressive tactic requires lots of walking, location swapping and assertive calling to locate a lonely gobbler that is willing to talk.
Slip through the woods quietly but rapidly, and call often with a series of yelps and cutts on a loud, high-volume call. A locator call mimicking a crow, owl, peacock or coyote also works and will sometimes get a response even if the gobbler isn't lonely.
After finding the bird, set up, call and hunt just as if he had been roosted the night before. Use yelps, cutts and purrs to seduce that trophy within gun range.
While decoys can be used in the cut `n' run set up, many hunters leave them home when they know they'll be walking long distances. Items in the vest can add up quickly when trudging miles through the woods, and repeatedly setting up and taking down decoys can become a real chore.
When using a technique like the cut `n' run, safety and outdoor knowledge are especially important.
Keep a close watch on your surroundings and know who or what is in the woods. Move only when you're sure there are no other hunters about, and call only when sitting or standing next to a wide tree. This will not only keep you safe, but it will also help you be better prepared to quickly setup should a tom respond from nearby.
There is always the chance of coming across other hunters in the woods, especially if hunting public land. Hunt defensively and always identify the target before shooting. If you slip up on a turkey in the woods; remember, it could be another hunter's decoy.