As most turkey hunters worth their slate know, bagging the trophy timberghost depends on how much time you spend scouting before the season begins.
But if you've put in your time roosting Kielbasa Beard, these tips will help secure you leave the woods together.
1. Couch or crouch?
To get a turkey in your kitchen, you have to spend time in their living room.
If you don’t get off your couch and spend some time in the woods crawling up hills and crouching behind some trees, what makes you think you’re gonna see one on opening morning?
To be successful, you need to scout before the season.
2. Who’s afraid of the dark?
Once you get in their “house” during your scouting ventures, stay until dark. Don’t leave until they roost and can’t see you leave, and then only take two or three steps at a time.
If they fly off the roost, kiss the morning hunt good bye. Would you sleep in the same house with a burglar?
3. Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs
This tip saved my butt a hundred times. Once you know where you’re going to hunt, clear out bare dirt spots for each foot in the leaves, so you can easily slip out of the woods quietly. This essential footpath not only lets you slink in and out, but helps you find your spot in the dark.
Just clear the steps 30 yards from your spot. I can get within 75 feet of their roost this way!
4. Bowling lanes
Once you have your spot, sit down in your hunting position, determine your shooting lanes, and prune anything obstructing your shot. Pick at least three different lanes.
Don’t be too obvious: rearranging their "furniture" is risky, but definitely trim troublesome saplings, limbs, or brush.
5. Don’t overstay your welcome
Find out where the birds are before your hunt, preferably weeks before.
They are habitual. If you know where they’re at the night before opening day, don’t go back! Why risk spooking them? Leave them to their normal routine until opening day.
6. Just wing it
Save a wing this year to use next year for tricking reluctant birds that get hung up out of range. By flapping the wing, low and out of sight, against your thigh or the ground (dusting), wary gobblers will step into your killing zone with confidence.
7. Experience is a good teacher, and only a fool won’t learn
So said my Uncle Elmer who survived the Battle of the Bulge. Every turkey sighting is a lesson learned.
Listen to the lone hen that comes in to your call. What is she saying in return? Soft calling? Do they roost in a downpour? Do they answer in the wind? Do they follow deer? Dust at the same times?
8. Length matters
Always buy your camo pants longer than normal. As soon as you sit down, proper length pants will hike up and expose your socks or boots. Extra length in pants will not ride up on you.
9. Stay cool
Frozen water will stay cold all day. I freeze my favorite water drink the night before, and it thaws throughout the day as I need it.
10. Butt it hurts
You can’t sit still if it hurts so use an extra seat cushion or boat cushion. Marine boat cushions are thick for floatation purposes and dry out quickly.
Once you know your spot, leave it there during your scout.
11. Variety is the spice of life
Use three different calls (mouth, box, and slate) and learn to use at least two simultaneously.
Try to sound like there’s more than one hen to convince gobblers to leave the “bird in the hand” and come to you. There's always an afternoon hang up to outsmart.
12. Fake a Jake
Don’t use decoys if you want the big toms. They get big for a reason. They’re cautious and smart. I’ve had them stare for eternity at dekes and then slink away.
13. Snickers and grins
Empty all snacks into quiet Ziploc bags. No need to use the loud crackling wrappers they come in from the store.
14. What Not To Wear
Your shirt or coat should be darker, like tree bark, if you’re sitting under a tree (Realtree, Mossy Oak) and pants tan like the forest floor (Advantage).
Switch to greener patterns as the season goes on, but mix and match tops and bottoms. I've had birds 10 feet away regularly.
15. Dark shadows
God put them there for a reason. Use them. Don’t sit in the sun and move as the sun moves to stay in the darker areas of the woods.
16. Now or never
Make all your noise in the first five minutes, clear an area around you of all leaves and sticks, and then don’t move.
If you do move, move your eyes first, then your head. Always assume you are being watched. You are!
17. Windsor or bow?
Some pants have the military design with laces sewn into the cuffs. If you use these, tie down your pant cuffs inside your bootlaces and they won’t ride up on you when you sit down.
18. Never put off tomorrow
Shoot and pattern your gun before the season starts. Know which shell brand and size shoots where, and get a scope. This is the 21st century!
19. Brimming with confidence
Get an archery hat with mask and short brim. Less movement when you turn your head and doesn’t bump your scope.
20. You do not have because you do not ask
Ask your buddies for one secret to add to this list and then send it to me. See No. 7 above.