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How To/Pro-Tips

Blinds and Decoys

The proper use of blinds and decoys will certainly help any turkey hunter. It's hard to be too well camouflaged or to have too much "attraction" working for you when hunting wary old gobblers.
A good blind hides you but doesn't hinder you. Natural brush blinds are O.K. but they limit your ability to move if necessary, and they take time to build, which creates some disturbance in the area. The best turkey blinds are those with camouflage netting and a few stakes. These are lightweight, very portable and quick and quiet to set up and take down.
A turkey decoy will surely attract a gobbler, including those that can see the decoy but may be out of calling range. However, for a bowhunter, they give the gobbler something to focus on while the bow is being drawn. They do a similar good job for the gun hunter who gets caught with his gun down.

Head Him Off

When a gobbler answers your calls but continually heads away, it usually means that he is with hens or he is going where he expects to find some. His gobbles are his invitation for you to tag along and he may even slow down or stop to let the laggard "hen" catch up. However, he is unlikely to turn around and come back.

A strenuous but effective tactic is for the hunter to loop around and get in front of the moving bird. This takes both stamina and a very good knowledge of the terrain. A gobbler moving purposefully is moving pretty fast.
If you know the country and that gobbler well enough to have a pretty good idea of his destination, such as a preferred strutting area, you have a considerable advantage when trying this tactic.

Remember, ties don't count (for you). You have to get in front of the traveling turkey, find a spot and get set up before he arrives.

Hung Up or Henned Up

Henned-up gobblers are one of the toughest challenges in turkey hunting. Hung-up gobblers are a close second. A gobbler with hens may answer your calling but will seldom leave them. Many times the hens will try to lead the gobbler away. When a gobbler answers but moves away, it indicates he is with hens.

A stationary gobbling bird that simply won't budge is truly hung up. Often he is across a creek or some other obstacle he doesn't want to cross. Sometimes he is in his favorite strutting area and doesn't want to leave. Frequently the hunter unknowingly encourages the gobbler to stay put by calling too much, convincing the gobbler the "hen" is on the way.

One strategy for versatile hunters is to change calls or style of calling. Another is to simply shut up and play hard to get right back. The third, and most risky, is to try to change calling positions to shake the hung-up gobbler loose.

Turkey Noise

Studying the wild turkey, its vocalizations and the sounds that are associated with turkeys can add realism to your calling.

Wing flapping is associated with the fly-down period and is quite effective when used in conjunction with tree calls, clucks and cackles. However, turkeys frequently flap their wings during the day, much as humans stretch. Some companies even make a "wing" which allows the hunter to naturally imitate the sound of flapping wings.

Scratching in the leaves is a constant sound when turkeys are feeding. Lightly scratching the leaves as you call, particularly using soft purrs and clucks, sounds very realistic.

Turkeys and humans sound just alike when walking in the leaves. This is a safety consideration but it can also fool a gobbler. If he comes looking first, and catches you in the open, you've had it. But if he gobbles, you may have time to sit down and call him in.

The Gobble Call

The use of calls imitating the gobble of an adult male is somewhat controversial. It is an excellent locator call. It also can attract a dominant gobbler looking for an intruder in his territory. However, gobbling has some tactical downsides and involves safety considerations.
As with bugling to elk, gobbling at a gobbler with his harem hens may make him decide to leave and take his girlfriends elsewhere, away from competition. If you sound too big and bad, it also can cause sub-dominant gobblers to shut up and leave the area.
Of course a well executed gobble will attract other hunters. Having other hunters sneaking in, literally hunting you, is potentially dangerous and is almost certain to at least mess up your hunting area for the morning.
Restrict your gobbling on public or hard-hunted land as a matter of both common sense and safety. As a turkey hunting tactic, it's a judgment call as to whether it will draw in a particular gobbler or drive him away.

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