By Steve Hickoff
Your Yamaha wheels will get you there. As strategies for getting deep into back country and the big woods go, doing it on an ATV or Side-by-Side is one of the best. Your goal: To tag a fall turkey for the Thanksgiving table. Check your available seasons right now.
Last month we talked about Finding Fall Turkeys. After prospecting this way to locate birds, let’s take a look at what you need to do once that’s been accomplished. Do you have hunter access to the location? Good. Now find where those turkeys roost.
EARLY ON: Arrive early, an hour before dawn, wheeling to your listening spot in the dark. Cut the engine. Chances are the birds aren’t that far from preferred feeding zones. They might pitch down and move to chow on field insects early in the season—even as first frosts chill those protein-rich bugs. Later, they might hit hard mast such as acorns in the woods.
If they’re nearby, within at least a quarter mile, you should be able to hear turkeys calling on the roost (at least on calm daybreaks without wind). Move toward that birdy racket. Slip in. If you’re not just scouting but actually hunting, you have a couple options.
Option 1—You can slip in and flush turkeys off the roost, hoping they fly in all directions. Say what? You heard right. These gregarious birds wanted to be together. You’ve changed that. They’ll want to regroup. Be there when they do, walking toward you on the ground, right at the flush site.
Option 2—Not for you? If so, simply slip in tight, avoiding detection. Make vocalizations such as tree calling while the turkeys are roosted. Mimic birds on the ground after they fly down and attempt to call them in. If a young fall hen or jake “kee-kees”—a juvenile turkey’s call—imitate it. If a gobbler yelps, make the three-note coarse vocalization of an adult male bird (they’ll gobble in the fall too).
PLAN B: Did they give you the slip? Glass them with binoculars, either hopping on your four Yamaha wheels to gain a position to look down on those feeding areas, or by using terrain to move in their direction by foot.
You can cover a lot of ground this way. Since the effort is to put a fall turkey in your freezer for the holiday, you can either take a bird from a family flock (smaller, but sometimes easier—especially legal hens of the year in either-sex states), or you can hold out for an autumn longbeard.
You can pattern them. You can be where they want to be. You can call to them after fly-down or wait for them to return to the roost (assuming legal shooting lasts until fly-up time). It’s up to you.
As the hunting day closes down, go to your ATV or Side-by-Side. Move to another listening spot and pinpoint turkeys for the next morning’s hunt. Helmet on and lights leading the way, you can prepare your day’s hunt story for friends and family back home or in camp.
Your four Yamaha wheels will get you right back in the action the next day.