Thursday, March 27, 2008
By Gregg Patterson
My March madness is more about the start of turkey hunting than basketball.
Now forget about your NCAA basketball bracket, and go hunting. Good luck and be safe.
- Stay in the woods — Get there early and stay late. There's really no reason to come out of the woods during daylight hours. Pack a daypack with snacks, drinks, first aid kit, decoys and anything else needed.
- Scout while you hunt — Pay attention to signs around you while hunting. You'll pick up new information that can improve your chances of success.
- Hunt in the rain — The turkeys are still out there. Rain works to your advantage: It covers noise while you're moving. Make sure to hunt when spring thunderstorms roll in. Thunder often makes toms gobble. I've killed several "thunder" gobblers.
- Sleep if you must — Serious turkey hunters eventually suffer from sleep deprivation. The woods are great place to nap. Before nodding off, make a series of loud excited yelps and cackles. Learn how to wake up without moving; I've done this and had turkeys right in front of me.
- When nothing is happening, use fall hunting techniques — You know the days ... little or no gobbling. Switch to fall turkey-hunting tactics when this happens: Call. Wait 15-20 minutes. Then move to a new location and repeat. The kee-kee-run call of a young turkey is a magnet to other young birds. Once you locate birds, you can work on finding the gobbler.
- Pay attention to puddles — I could never stay out of a puddle when I was a kid. Same for turkey hunting. Tracks tell you so much and are great confidence builders when toms aren't gobbling. One of the best ways to scout birds is to ride the roads and check puddles.
- Build a blind — Build a natural blind once you've located a hot gobbler. I've done this after locating a roost. I've done it on the fly after locating a tom while moving. Remember, good cover is your best friend.
- Use a decoy or two — Decoy movement helps attract an incoming gobbler's attention and divert it from where the sound is coming from: You.
- Hit and run — Don't stay in one place. Work an area thoroughly, then move on to the next likely spot. Work it, then move again.
- Keep a record of turkey movement — Make sure you have a topographic map of your hunting area. Mark the appropriate spot every time you see a turkey — in season or not. This historical record works better than your ever-failing memory. It will get you on birds quicker.