Avoid eating tag soup this spring with these last-minute tactical fixes
It’s easy to say bad luck is responsible for unfilled tags, but with turkey hunting, sometimes something else is to blame — likely YOU.
Sure, you’ve seen several strutters from your truck as you drive by a lush, late-season pasture. They’ve been there off and on all season. Yeah, but everyone else and their grandmothers have seen them too, including the UPS guy who has told every hunter he knows. Every turkey hunter has pressured those birds. And those turkeys have slinked off or hung up every time. Your spot — and everyone else’s — is flat burned out. And those educated spring gobblers will likely make it into summer.
The Fix: Do your homework. Locate some fresh birds. Pick up and find an unpressured location with gobbling turkeys, far from the access road.
You passed on some jakes opening day, and again last week, waiting for a longbeard. The spring turkey season is winding down, and frustration is setting in. Nope, you still haven’t tagged a bird. You cringe when buddies call to ask, “Have you killed one yet?” Okay, maybe it’s time to take a page from the old school: Any legal wild turkey is a trophy — or at least welcome on your deck grill.
The Fix: Next time out, look for some young gobblers. And call one into range.
You’ve missed a couple of gobblers in range this season. First, you blamed the gun, but time on the patterning range proved that excuse wrong. Then you fired fast, whiffing again.
The Fix: Shooting fundamentals never go out of style. Mounting a shotgun should be second nature to some of us: cheek to stock. Funny how quickly those details go out the window when you watch the pretty birdie instead of shooting it in the head.
As the legendary Archibald Rutledge once wrote, “The turkey’s eyes are such that he can see a bumblebee turn a somersault on the verge of the horizon.” You, on the other hand, can’t stop texting, and posting to social media, even while hunting. Hyper-paranoid wild turkeys see this constant movement and they want no part of it.
The Fix: Turn your phone off and hunt.
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Realtree turkey hunting editor Steve Hickoff has chased gobblers all over the United States and Mexico. He was born and raised in northcentral Pennsylvania, and now makes his home in Maine. Hickoff was named the NWTF Tom Kelly Communicator of the Year for 2019, a prestigious award reflecting his longtime work promoting hunting and conservation as a turkey hunting writer, editor and book author.