Steve Hickoff is the Realtree Turkey Hunting Editor and Blogger. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country. It's "all turkeys, all the time" on the Realtree Turkey Blog.
How to Roost Turkeys
Learn how to roost turkeys this spring hunting season.
Finding where turkeys start and finish their day gives you a hunter’s advantage. Roosting a gobbler — and the other birds it runs with — makes this possible.
Here’s how. Start in a location where you’ve found turkey sign by scouting. Maybe you’ve heard gobblers waking up on the roost in a general area. Likely too you’ve glassed birds in nearby open spots. Now you want to pinpoint the exact location where these turkeys sleep. Do this the night before your hunt so you can make your setup there in the morning before fly-down.
Good turkey habitat will hold birds annually and reliably. As with pre-season scouting, seeing and hearing gobblers on the roost can add to hunting success.
Start by slipping into an area in mid-afternoon where you’ve heard birds before — or maybe just by targeting decent habitat. Scout open areas positioned not far from stands of big-branched trees. Sit calmly and quietly, listening as turkeys move into a likely roosting spot.
You’ll hear wing beats as they fly up; maybe even soft calling or gobbling as turkeys approach roost trees. With any luck you’ll see them do this. Once in the trees, birds will often move from branch to branch, wings noisily flapping as they reposition.
Okay, you know where turkeys sleep. Let night fall then sneak out of there.
Get some sleep yourself. You’ll be back in this spot well before daybreak. Now get as close as you can without spooking birds. Imagine where a gobbler might come to your calls. Make your setup near where turkeys flew up the night before. If unpressured, they might land there in the morning.
Roost gobbling and softer tree calling before fly-down as day breaks will allow you to reposition if necessary to gain the right setup position. Careful though. Pinpoint roosting locations by the sounds of wings hitting tree branches and fly-down cackles as birds sail to the ground. Other vocalizations can also be heard as turkeys regroup.
Didn’t kill a gobbler? Stick with it. Find other birds to hunt by using these tactics or running locator calls in another spot. Eventually you’ll be close enough to a roost to call one in for the kill.
Steve Hickoff is Realtree's turkey hunting editor and blogger.