TREAT ’EM LIKE WHITETAILS

Outdoor Life - - FEATURES -

IT HAPPENS SOONER or later ev­ery­where, ev­ery spring: Gob­blers go hay­wire, al­to­gether ig­nor­ing or even out­right run­ning from your calls—even if you’re a mae­stro. Hunt­ing pres­sure, stage of breed­ing sea­son, and an abun­dance of hens can all con­trib­ute to the prob­lem.

So quit call­ing. Cold turkey. Pe­riod. Then stand strong. That’s the first part of your so­lu­tion. Raid­ing your white­tail-hunt­ing play­book is the rest of it.

scout with pur­pose You wouldn’t hunt deer without try­ing to fig­ure out their move­ment pat­terns. Use the same scout­ing skills and tools to un­lock turkey habits in the area you hunt. Google Maps, on-the-ground re­con­nais­sance, and dis­creet glass­work from a good van­tage point will all help tell you what the birds are do­ing.

hunt travel routes Stak­ing out a ran­dom spot doesn’t work in deer hunt­ing. Suc­cess comes from watch­ing trails, travel cor­ri­dors, fun­nels, and pinch points. Same with turkey hunt­ing. Now that you know where the birds are go­ing, be there your­self. A killer spot: the route birds fol­low be­tween their roost and morn­ing food.

hit the feed Does feed hard, and bucks fol­low. Hens feed hard, and gob­blers fol­low. Just as you would hunt fields and food plots for whitetails, hunt where the tur­keys are chow­ing down.

bust a strut zone You hunt bucks around scrapes and zones where they like to rut. Silent toms still breed. Wait for gob­blers where they like to hang out and show off for hens—their strut zone. Look for wing drag marks through leaves, in trails, and on field or meadow edges to re­veal these hotspots.

play the weather Use bad weather to your ad­van­tage. Wind? Head to lee hill­sides, calm coulees, quiet val­leys, and se­cluded draws where wind-hat­ing tur­keys con­gre­gate. Rain? Get out of the woods and watch a field or meadow where birds will be preen­ing in the hours fol­low­ing a shower. Cold? Hit a sunny field edge where hens—with toms fol­low­ing—come to ab­sorb rays and warm up.

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