Turkey hunting is often about having a boatload of insight on bird behavior — and especially when you time it right, to put that insight into action.
Talk It Up
“Mr. Johnson, those turkeys giving you a hard time with the farm work?”
“Ha, don’t you know it. Can’t get anything done with them blocking the dirt road to the back pasture.”
Non-hunting rural folks, including hardworking farmers who see birds every day, often have a good sense of turkeys in their area — especially on their property. True enough, while some suburban residents in your town might be against hunting, others might view it as perfectly acceptable, even if they don’t partake in the tradition. Mail delivery and parcel service people cover a lot of ground, too. And those folks often have the gift of gab.
Have they seen birds? Doesn’t hurt to ask.
Trips to the post office, grocery store, running your kid to school, or whatever, all provide chances to look for turkeys you may not have seen. This is also a great time to ask permission, as you’ll likely be in “regular clothes” rather than all decked out head-to-toe in hunting apparel.
You can look like that the next time they see you.
Blind sitting fills tags, too. No, we’re not talking about one of those all-day “long sits” you do during the deer rut, or during the grand passage of ducks. Call this tactic the “short sit.” Hunt 90 minutes in the morning, max.
Get in a rhythm. Sit on patterned turkeys. Make your setup near the fly-down area, along the path birds take to strut zones or food sources. Get there a half-hour before fly-down. Listen to turkeys wake up. Post up right where they’ll hit the ground.
Careful to shoot only the bird you want if they come in tightly grouped.
And be especially courteous to other hunters on public land. Guys who hog blind spots the entire season might be breaking the law (always check the regs) — or at least annoying others who might want a shot at turkeys in that area.
Don’t moan about having no time. Trade it. Explain the situation to your boss. If you’re lucky, he or she is a hunter and will understand, and might already be familiar with your obsession. If not, educate them about our spring tradition.
Offer to work a few extra hours in the off-season. Find a way to get on those work-commute gobblers — depending on your employment situation, you may be able to leave for the office a bit early and tag a turkey on the way in. Maybe try it on the opener? Maybe it’s cool with your employer if you hunt an hour or two during a long lunch break.
Hunt in the afternoon if legal. Leave work early, get in there, and stay until the bell sounds. While all your buddies are rising early, and growing more tired by the day, you might be able to figure out an unpressured situation that involves a seat and/or comfortable cushion.
Keep on those birds, an hour or two at a time. Tag the one you want. And then take your boss to lunch the next day.
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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.