Come opening morning, public land birds are hit with a barrage of hooting, yelping, clucking, cutting and purring. Be one step ahead of the birds and your competition by jumping off the beaten path, going the extra mile and avoiding easy access areas that will be pounded by the competition.
Consistently connecting with veteran gobblers in high-pressured areas can be the ultimate spring challenge. Put your hunting skills to the test, and take your hunt up a notch with these four high-impact preemptive strategies.
1. Network Scouting
Work, deadlines and life’s commitments make it hard to pattern the daily habits of the turkeys in your hunting area, but efficiently scouting will give you an edge over wary longbeards and other hunters.
Ease into the field a few weeks before season and strategically hang a network of trail cameras near high traffic areas. The pictures provide detailed time stamps of daily movements to help you pattern the turkeys you are hunting. Knowing the precise times a turkey visits a particular feeding area or dusting site can pay huge dividends.
2. Use the Roost
Just when you think you can accurately predict which direction a gobbler will strut off in after fly-down, he throws you for a loop. Use this next tactic to influence where a lovesick longbeard will go after he leaves the roost.
Set up within hearing distance of a gobbler’s roosting site the evening before the hunt. Just before dark, use multiple calls simultaneously to mimic the sound of several hens flying up to roost. Beat your hat against your chest and make intense cackles and excited yelps to simulate a flock of hens flying up to roost for the night. Pick an area that can be reached quietly the next morning and you’ll help dictate where the gobbler wants to be at daylight.
3. Create Mock Dust Sites
Make a mock dusting site near popular turkey hangouts to create a perfect ambush point and control turkey movement. Mock sites can generate some intense action during the mid-morning hours. All you need is a small shovel or mattock to break up loose dirt on level ground around high-traffic areas. These dust bowls can be the ace up your sleeve when hunting conditions are tough or during non-vocal periods.
4. Construct Strut Zones
Clear out open areas with a handsaw, swing blade or weed trimmer inside high traffic areas in thick cover. It’s amazing how one or two isolated open areas can attract a strutting gobbler. A veteran longbeard that has been over called, bumped, spooked and even shot at will often hit a series of strut zones throughout the day to attract the hens to him. Constructing you own strut zones near areas that offer suitable cover and setup capability is another great way to connect with super smart gobblers that have evolved into master escape artists over the years.