If you are like me you are already beginning to think about Turkey Season. I hunted for the last time this past week and have already had a mind shift toward chasing some long beards across the USA…. In spite of growing up on a ranch in Florida Turkey Hunting was not a big part of what we did. We hunted Deer and Hogs. Over the past several years I have fallen in love with bowhunting turkeys.
Chasing an Osceola Turkey or any turkey can present its own challenges but add a Bow and Arrow to the mix. It can be just down right tough. This year we will be Turkey Hunting in Florida, South Carolina, Illinois and Kentucky. Let’s talk about some sure fire ways to killing a bird with a Bow and some sure fire ways of messing up (Which I have done plenty of).
Starting with the basics are key no matter if you are hunting with gun or bow. This includes practicing your calling, thinking about set ups, and getting your equipment ready. Now you might be awesome caller but I am not. I am good but do not profess to be an expert. I have some buddies that are ridiculously good. So, for me I will start calling and practicing my calls over the next month (in the truck, at home, baseball practice….).
A Turkey has unreal hearing so you have to be able to “talk the talk” or that old bird or hen will not respond. Thus the hunt is over! This becomes especially more pronounced as the season progresses and the birds have been hunted. Expand your calling ability by learning new types of calls or calling scenarios. If you are good at box call try to use a mouth call or vice versa. This may help you close the deal on a gobbler that is held up but will not come all the way in. That extra sound may do the trick. I have gotten better at the mouth call and slate call over the past few years. Although, I still have difficulty in making a purr with my mouth call. So, I rely on my slate or friction call to do it. I will continue to practice but until then I will use different calls to help me in the field. Practice with a friend and have them critique you. You may think you sound great but all reality is you may need some work. Now is the time to work on it.
Next think about your set ups…….1) How will you hunt these birds on the ground? 2) Will you use a ground blind, hunt on the ground, listen, spot and stalk, ect… I do not believe there is only one way to bowhunt a Turkey. All can be effective. There is no question that hunting from the ground can be very challenging because of the lack of concealment beyond your camo. Consider scenarios where you will have some backdrop, logs, bushes, trees to help conceal you as you draw your bow. Bowhunting out of a ground blind is pretty straightforward. A key factor is where you set up your blind in relation to where the turkey is going to be coming and where you place your decoys.
Something I have seen over the years is that a Turkey will NOT get alarmed at the sight of a ground blind newly placed in an area. They will be so focused on the decoys they will pay no attention to the blind. So, worry less about concealing the blind but more on where to place it to ensure you can pull the birds in for effective shot. Now, I love to hunt from the ground. It can be very challenging but I enjoy the challenge. So what are some good lessons to follow. In this case position yourself within your effective shooting range but find cover to allow you to draw your bow. Strategic placement of your decoys can greatly help you here. When that gobbler comes in and is so focused on that decoy he will be less focused on what is around him. This allows you to draw your bow and make the shot without getting busted. Finding the right backdrop or creating the right backdrop is vital to you being able to pull this off. Additionally, I am a huge fan of a 3-D leafy type of camo. I have used the Mossy Oak Diffusion in Obsession Camo for Turkey hunting and for early season bowhunting for big game. It is lightweight, provides great concealment and breaths very well. No matter what camo you use finding something that matches your hunting environment is the take away.
Decoy placement is something that I have made a lot of mistakes on over the past few years. Do you use a hen with gobbler or just a hen? Do you use a Jake with hen to simulate a young turkey breading hen. The key is thinking about the scenarios you are hunting, the how the birds in that area react to certain scenarios, and how you place your birds. For example, in Florida we have not had a lot of luck using a gobbler with our hens. Not to say that does not work great but we have found that the birds on the ranch we hunt will not respond as well as just using a hen or adding a Jake to the hen. Additionally, where you place the decoys in relation to where you will be shooting is important. If you put them too close you may get busted but can not put to far away to be able to ethically take shot with bow. Think about how that gobbler would come into that area. If he is not comfortable he will not come in. Make sure the decoys are visible and then in a position that will allow you to call and make your shot.
Getting your Equipment Ready – Okay, next think about your equipment. I am a gadget guy. I love having some of the newest equipment to help me in the field. That is just me but I will use a call that I have been comfortable with but if there is a new type of call I will use it. If there is a new decoy I may try it. With all that said get your equipment out now to make sure it is working well and ready for that first hunt. Last thing you want to do is get ready that first morning and something go wrong that ruins that first morning….
Other new turkey calls for 2011 are the following……