Pressured turkeys head for the hills and savvy hunters should do likewise.
By Bob Humphrey
In many parts of the country, it’s getting tougher to hunt turkeys without running into other hunters. This is particularly true of public land, but also applies to shared leases and private land where your permission to hunt is not exclusive. There are ways to counteract this. You can hunt during off times like weekdays, later in the day or later in the season. Or, you can head for the hills.
Most so-called upland or woodland game like deer, rabbits, quail and pheasants are edge species, preferring to live along the forest fringe. Though they’ve adapted to, and do quite well along the edge, wild turkeys are just as comfortable, and abundant in the forest interior. In fact, that’s where they evolved, and where they go when the pressure is on. That fact is often overlooked or ignored by the average turkey hunter. So while most guys are jockeying for position a few hundred yards from the parking lot, you could be back up in the hills with a noisy gobbler all to yourself.
It’s helpful if you do a little homework first. Obtain maps and/or aerial photos of your hunting area and identify the more remote forested areas. Photos make it easier to determine which areas are forested. Maps, meanwhile, show you topography and potential access routes.
Next you need to develop a strategy. On smaller areas you can hike in an hour or two before daylight. If you do, it’s a good idea to scout the route and the area in advance of your hunt, during daylight hours. On larger or more remote areas, you may want to pack in the evening before and set up camp.
A third option is to ride in. Where allowed, ATVs can get you into even the most remote areas quickly and relatively quietly. And if you still want to camp, you can bring a heck of a lot more gear. You may even want to set up a spike camp and hunt for several days. Just make sure you bring a cooler and plenty of ice to keep all those turkeys you shoot from spoiling.