Turkey Cautions
By: Brandon Wikman

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Although the wild turkey has a noggin the size of a small walnut, the wily bird continues to puzzle even the most veteran of hunters. The feathered chickens of the forest are wired with astute cleverness and a twist of uncanny habits. Here are a couple ways to put the odds in your favor this spring.

The Wake Up

The daybreak of morning illuminates the newborn sky, while some gambling hunters creep into whisper range of a gobbler’s morning perch. Risky hunters have been known to snuggle right next to a roosting tree in hopes of killing at first light. Unfortunately, the cards are not in favor of those who tree hug.

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As many of us know, the wild turkey has a very keen set of eyeballs that dissect each leaf, twig, and grass blade of the forest floor. Their ears are extremely effective as well, which help them pinpoint other birds. If you plan to nestle within 50-75 yards of a roost tree, you better have an effective plan; otherwise it takes only one eyeball of security to set off the alarm.

Turkeys have a tremendous field of view when halfway up a tree. They are able to cover a lot more forest and field and pinpoint noise effectively.

The Hang-Up

Every bird hunter has had a tom “hang-up” on him as he struts, gobbles, and flaunts just outside your shooting range. He’s like a treble hook snagged in brush and not moving an inch more. The gobbler patiently waits for your next move, and sometimes this standoff can take hours.

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The best bet to knock him down is to play his game and wait him out. Patience is the name of the game when it comes to turkey hunting. They have their own mental clock that ticks as sluggish as a Wisconsin winter. I’ve had birds 80 yards away in a field strutting for hours before curiosity overwhelmed them and brought them into a delightful 20 yards.

Using the comfort calls such as clucks and purrs seems to always work well, too. Be sure to try raking your hands in the leaves to mimic scratching. These little tricks make a large and significant difference in the world of the wild turkey.

Hunters always like to make decisive moves and bet chance with risky business – sometimes simply playing it safe can save you a lot of hassle and headaches.

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