Second Half can Provide Action for Turkey Hunter
By Gary Lewis
We are at the midpoint of turkey season here in Oregon. A few of the state's gobblers have been gobbled. A few more have been to school and educated to the ways of the hunter.
In the spring, a hunter can mimic the calls of a hen turkey to draw a lovesick tom within shotgun or bow range. If a gobbler is surrounded by hens, he probably cannot be enticed to go looking for another. However, by mid-season, many hens are on the nest and a gobbler in search of a willing female may be more receptive to plaintive calling.
To find a gobbler now, the hunter may have to spend more time on the move. As local hens lose interest, big toms often go looking for love.
Some of the best hunting is yet to come. If you've been on the bench and want to get back in the game with a good chance at finding a turkey in the second half of the season, the outlook is good. But to score in the second half, you need to go back to the fundamentals.
Over the last few years, I've tagged along with several of Oregon's turkey hunting experts. Here are some tips I've picked up that might help you get your gobbler this spring.
Mike Carey, a former Regional Director for the National Wild Turkey Federation suggests that hunters scout for good hunting in mature pine forests, adjacent to open areas. You'll want to look for fresh dusting beds, tracks, feathers, droppings, and sign of wing-dragging by strutting birds.
Darren Roe, of Roe Outfitters, says to know the terrain before you hunt. Make sure there are no fences, roads, or water between you and the bird you are calling. Such barriers often make a gobbler hang up and lose interest.
According to Primos Calls Pro Staffer Walt Ramage, don't skyline yourself. Be concealed, but not behind brush that can limit movement of the shotgun. A turkey's eyesight is phenomenal. Use a head net to deaden the shine from your face. Wear gloves so a turkey won't readily identify movement as you set down the call and raise your shotgun.
Along with their good eyesight, a turkey's hearing is excellent. Darren Roe practices subtle calling to keep from alarming a gobbler. If you have done your scouting, you know a gobbler is nearby. Loud calling can spook him. A gobbler can hear the soft, quiet “putt-putt” of a hen hundreds of yards away.
Ramage recommends caution when a gobbler answers. Stop calling when the turkey is close, so he can't pinpoint your location.
Each year, in Oregon's top ten turkey units, hunters spend between two and five days in the pursuit of their gobbler and average one bird for every three hunters. Go back to the fundamentals in the second half. Scout out new areas, perfect your calling technique and pay attention to the terrain and your camouflage. Perhaps you will hear an answering gobble or maybe the bird will come in silent. Pray the pounding of your heart won't give you away.