By Steve Hickoff
Sure, you’ve been taught to avoid detection when approaching a spring turkey roost. You rise early, and slink into position, knowing the gobbler is nearby. Maybe he has hens with him. Maybe he doesn’t. But you try your best not to alert these wild birds either way.
Sometimes though, you need to throw out the playbook. This is especially true for turkeys you’ve hunted the tried-and-true way, and with birds that have beaten you every time.
Look at it this way: the gobbler wants to be near his hens, so that bird roosts with them. He gobbles in the morning to let them know his position. Hens yelp back to indicate theirs. So what if you break up the party?
While sitting there at your setup as the sun hints at rising, try to determine the configuration of the flock. Occasionally you’ll note hens roosting off to the side—within hearing distance of the gobbler or gobblers, but apart.
Using terrain as best you can, try to walk between the roosted birds, and flush them. Separate the hens from the gobbler. This strategy is much like the fall technique of breaking flocks up. Turkeys are gregarious, which is the reason they flocked up in the first place. Often once that gobbler realizes he’s alone, he might come to the first clucks and hen yelps he hears (yours if you’re lucky), and you’ll find yourself in a situation where you now have the upper hand.
When isn’t it a good idea to do this? If you’re hunting limited public land and other hunters are competing for the same gobbler. When is it a reliable option? If you’re hunting a big tract of private land, and it’s likely you’re the only one on it. Assuming you have plenty of time, you can strategically hunt the gobbling bird once he starts hammering again, and try to call him right to your setup.
Sometimes you can flush turkeys intentionally, trying to separate the hens from the gobbler. Sometimes you bust them unintentionally. In the latter deal, don’t get bummed that you’ve revealed your presence, and alarmed the birds. Think it out. Those turkeys want to be together. So take your time. Pace yourself. Chances are they’ll start calling soon, or if not, within the hour.
Then again, if they get together visually, well then you’ll have to try your luck another day.