Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Field Birds

I sat in my ground blind for 4 hours on a rainy day before killing this field bird.

I sat in my ground blind for 4 hours on a rainy day before killing this field bird.

By Bob Humphrey

It is often said that field birds can be among the toughest turkeys to kill.  It is also said that ignorance is bliss.  I believe the latter more than the former.  Not knowing any better, I cut my turkey hunting teeth on field birds, and to this day still hunt predominantly field birds.  I don’t consider them to be all that much tougher than any other birds.  And I don’t have any secret formula for success.  Mostly it’s just good old common sense.


Research, and most every turkey hunter’s observations show turkeys spend most of their time in and around fields.  It only stands to reason that you should too.  Spend more time where the turkeys do and your odds of encountering one naturally improve.  So do your odds of killing one, if you employ the right techniques.


Open areas offer much better visibility, which can be a double-edged sword.  Because turkeys can see much farther in the open, they may be less likely to come to a call if they don’t see the source. 

This is where decoys can make a big difference.  Turkeys can see them from much farther away, and if they’re so inclined, will be more likely to approach.  Try to set up where your decoys will be most visible, like on a hilltop or off the point of a finger of woods jutting into a field.  And be careful to set them to one side or the other of your position so approaching birds won’t be looking directly at you.


Much of successful turkey hunting involves scouting and patterning, which is easier to do with field birds because they’re more visible.  Even call-shy and decoy-shy birds have routines.  Figure out where they go each morning, then try to get there ahead of them.  Leave the decoys and the calls behind, be quiet, still and patient. 


Fields can sometimes be a turkey’s Achilles heel.  They rely on their vision and hearing to detect predators, both of which can be severely impaired on windy and rainy days.  The woods are full of noise and movement, so turkeys tend to seek out, and stay out in the fields during heavy winds and rain. 

When I see either in the forecast, my plans usually involve a field, and often an armload of decoys, a portable pop-up blind and a comfortable folding chair (and maybe even a good paperback). 

I set up in the dark and plan on staying as long as it takes, which may be several hours.  But if you’ve seen birds in the field on any kind of regular basis, chances are even better they’ll show up on stormy days.  Call sparingly and stay alert.