By Steve Hickoff
You know you have at least one or more gobblers to hunt. How? You heard them on the roost at daybreak or dusk – or both. That’s half the challenge. Now hunt them seriously.
STEP 1: Fix roosting locations with locator calls or simply by listening to turkeys fly up the night before your hunt.
STEP 2: Rise early enough to make your way there in the dark.
STEP 3: Close in on the roost, walking quietly — you’ll make some noise later yelping to turkeys on the ground. Don’t move too much. If you call at all, make it a hands-free mouth diaphragm. For added realism, stake a decoy or two near your position and in range (do this in the dark). As turkeys fly down and regroup, a gobbler may move in for a look.
STEP 4: Adjust your setup before action begins; quietly, slowly clearing sticks and debris.
STEP 5: Get comfortable one more time and don’t move much as you listen to turkeys waking up.
STEP 6: Focus your mind right as fly-down time begins — no distractions. (Notice the emphasis on making ready.)
STEP 7: Watch or listen as turkeys pitch down. Wait … now call softly as they regroup. Pay attention. Did a legal bird pull into range? If so, take the turkey. If not, let the flock drift.
STEP 8: Where did they go? You’ll want to know to set up between the roost and where they hang out all day – assuming afternoon hours are legal in your state. Be there before fly-up time when they stroll back and close the deal. Get in there early enough to avoid detection. Call now and then to get a response from approaching birds.
STEP 9: Did you accidentally scare and scatter turkeys while moving in? That’s okay. Relax. If you unintentionally separated a gobbler from the flock, use this to your advantage. Get between this bird and the remaining turkeys — ideally hens he wants to regroup with.
STEP 10: Locate turkeys in wilderness country on your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side. Camp nearby, not far from the birds you’ve found. Make your morning setup miles from the nearest road. Hunt these gobblers yourself.
Start with Step 1 again if nothing works. Enjoy it. As the saying goes, the journey is the destination.