KILL A CANYON GOBBLER

Outdoor Life - - FEATURES - —R.S.

THE TOUGHEST TOMS to tag can be those that hang out in ver­ti­cal land­scapes—the steep slopes of Western canyons or the cor­duroy coun­try of Ap­palachia and the North­east. Some­times the ter­rain is so ver­ti­cal, you can call a gobbler to 15 yards and still not see it. When you fi­nally do, just his red head pops up, and the rest of the bird re­mains hid­den by the hill. Canyon crossers are an­other chal­lenge. A tom might roost on one side, fly down to the other, and climb the op­po­site rim to strut. In those cases, you may need to ford a creek and climb 500 feet to reach him.

The best way to cir­cum­vent turkey trou­bles in ver­ti­cal coun­try is to look for ter­rain features that can help you get the drop on in­com­ing gob­blers.

glass a rim strut­ter Gob­blers will strut and preen in the woods and glades of canyon slopes, but of­ten they hike up to the canyon rim and strut there, es­pe­cially if it bor­ders a pas­ture or crop field. You can watch for this from an el­e­vated look­out. Use a good binoc­u­lar and back it up with a spot­ting scope. In the West, we some­times glass rim-edge tur­keys from 2 or 3 miles away, usu­ally from the op­po­site side of the canyon. Move in when you’ve iden­ti­fied a pop­u­lar edge, ei­ther us­ing the steep ridge to hide your ap­proach from be­low or find­ing lit­tle creases and rivulets that can hide you if you need to drop in from above.

lo­cate roosts Like tur­keys ev­ery­where, canyon toms have pre­ferred roost sites—for a few nights in a row at least. Lis­ten for gob­bles in the evening or be­fore dawn to pin­point these places, then set up on the rim near­est the bird, up­hill of the roost, and try call­ing him to you.

deke the bench Toms will walk and strut on steep ground, but they’re eas­ier to see and shoot when they’re on flat ground. Most canyon walls will have a few mead­ows on benches or gen­tler south-fac­ing slopes. Some are cut with old log­ging roads, which of­fer flat but nar­row strut­ting zones. Set up a de­coy on a sunny bench and call to the gob­blers.

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