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Need Advice Turkey - Season Busted

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Need Advice Turkey - Season Busted

Old 05-04-2018, 03:46 AM
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Default Need Advice Turkey - Season Busted

Forgive me but I am still a novice turkey hunter. I never thought I would hunt turkeys, but as I have renewed my interest in hunting 5 years ago, I became nostalgic about how much my Pappy loved turkey hunting. Quite frankly he had one of the largest turkeys I have ever seen on his wall and I still have his original box call.

Anyway, this is my 2nd season really seriously turkey hunting, and my first season doing it largely solo. One area I scouted (public lands) was burned (planned burn) the day before opening day. Lesson learned - check with the local ranger station on planned burns.

On a whim, the first full week of turkey season, I went and scouted a 100 acre piece of land near me that I had been told didn't have any turkeys on it (the owner). Surprise, surprise... Over the course of 2 days I found what appeared to be 40-60ish turkeys over the back section that was bordered by a river and was very swampy (so a lot of people didn't get back in there.

During this process, I turned the corner about 2 oclock one of the scouting days and saw two of the biggest toms I have ever seen about 100 yards down the lane. Over the 3 days I attempted to whittle down their roosting location. They gobbled but at dawn and sunset extensively. I thought I narrowed the area down considerably and identified that they seemed to be broken out into 3 sub groups and didn't all seem to be roosting in the same tree.

My final day of scouting I decided they appeared to be heading off the roost and east toward the river. There was a lane they had to be crossing before the river and I isolated a 50 yardish stretch I believed they were travelling through.

The next morning I moved into my location nearly an hour and half before sunrise. I wanted to be set up and still way before they might even move. Before sunrise (in fact it was considerably dark) They are gobbling as they have. I hear some to my left about 100 yards, directly in front about 300 yards, and at my 2 oclock about 300 yards. I barely called, just clucked and purred a little and the ones to my left seemed to interact with it. While it was still too dark to properly see (and identify) I swear it looked like a tom (size) ran the opposite direction (toward the roosting vs river) across the lane. It was tucked tight head down and hauling booty.

As the sun came up the turkeys subsided their gobbling but nothing ever came across the lane! I turned to look at a field behind us that had been logged in the fall (lots of cut debris) and I am stunned as I see 30ish turkeys in a line running across it. I move to watch them and they run back and forth over a small rise. I think behind the rise they may have been strutting.

We watch the lane and the field (I had my 18 y/o son with me) until about 9 and then head back to the house. My plan was to come back around 2 and setup on the lane I had seen the two massive toms sunning in, then at around 4:30ish move to the timbered field we had seen the turkeys that morning in and see if we could catch them heading back to the roost.

I went to Cabela's and bought some extra concealment to help conceal us in the open field.

Around 1 when we were heading back in to set up on the lane, I noticed in a partially timbered space in the trees, 5 or so turkeys. They saw me and looked like they were heading toward the lanes we were going to set up on. We set up, with decoys and I periodically (very long intervals) did a little calling. 4:30 rolled around and other than a hawk that swooped at our decoys... nothing.

We moved to the field and set up our concealment. We had the top of one of the small cut trees to our back and sectional stretch out blind pieces around us so we could peek over. We waited til sunset. Nothing... Worse not a sound at sunset, when for 4 days they had gobbled in this area all around me.

The next morning I went in early to the same area and set up... Not a gobble anywhere. Late sunrise I did hear what sounded like some faint gobbling across the river, several miles away (could just barely hear it).

I laid off the land for a week, thinking my presence may have changed the turkey's behavior. Went in today and not a peep or sound, much less sign.

Where do 60ish active turkeys disappear to?
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Old 05-04-2018, 11:47 AM
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I don't think all those turkeys went that far away.. I think some have wandered away but not all of them.. They get with the hens and become tight lipped.. The term we use is that they are hened up.. But they do get wandering again at times and will even come in silent which makes for a long slow hunt.. Good Luck to you..
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Old 05-04-2018, 03:15 PM
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Listen for gobbling early morning. They will tell you where they are. Look at adjoining property looking for potential roost sites.
The Toms might be in the phase they gobble a bit from the roost but once on the ground they strut the whole time

Sit and wait in areas you have seen turkeys consistently.
That big glocl more than likely broke up.
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Old 05-04-2018, 03:45 PM
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It sounds like you are competing with real hens for the gobblers' attention. At this stage of your season, I might focus on the late mornings or afternoons, when hens sneak away to their nests.

I knew a guy in cent. AL who had a flock of turkeys that would disappear every year just before the season opened up. He found out that the neighboring property owner was putting out corn.
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Old 05-04-2018, 03:49 PM
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No gobbling does not mean no toms. I often hunt silent birds especially late season pressured ones. It's good to get some experience generally knowing their most heavily used travel areas. Look for fresh tracks and dust bowls. A great place to set up your blind is if you find a spot with several dust bowls within range of where you can set up a blind. Just set up there and hunt it all day. One of the best times is after 10 AM because the toms will be following the hens up until then, when the hens always return to their individual nests. Then the toms are cruising and much more likely to come into decoys. If the spot you find is public and heavily pressured, your best off not using decoys. Where I hunt, the toms will avoid both blinds and dekes. What state are you hunting. How much pressure is around there?

I have harvested many toms when there was no gobbling or turkey sounds at all. Just hunt travel lanes with fresh sign, same as deer hunting.

Last edited by Zim; 05-04-2018 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 05-05-2018, 12:40 PM
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So finding tracks is hard... The land is very either hard or swampy and places where you can find tracks is few and far between. I did find what looked like some hen tracks in some sand new a field. But it was only one set.

These places are in North Carolina in the transition area between the coastal plan and the piedmont areas. Its generally heavily wooded, swampy, with a few parts timbered and cleared for what is now hay fields.

I also found a pile of "J" shaped poop but it was not white tinged like it is said, most turkey poop looks like.

Otherwise finding scrapes and other signs has been difficult. I have never heard of a dust bowl... what is it?
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Old 05-06-2018, 06:10 AM
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WM, Dust bowls are depressions in the soil where turkey roll around in to get dust in their feathers to discourage biting mites. They are most commonly found in dry sandy or silty soils. You should be able to identify them pretty easily. I've actually seen hens dust themselves frequently. There will be tracks in & around such bowls. If you can find a cluster of them you got money. Just set up your blind in range. This is especially a good way to hunt if you do heavily pressured public land where the toms are spooked by decoys. The bowls act as your decoys.
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Old 09-29-2018, 08:28 AM
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Could be a pack of wild coyotes in the area, that might be stifling the toms or jakes from gobbling. That turkey you saw running away was probably spooked by something --- probably you --- so he might have came in silent before he saw you. May I suggest setting up in the morning...between his strut zone and roost. Just after dawn...just do some soft tree yelps --- loud enough for the tom to hear you. Once he acknowledges you --- shut down the calling till he flies down from his roost; or if you see one of his hens fly down. Then you can perform your hen fly-down cackle (along with wing beats, by flapping your hat on you're thigh) from a roost followed by some yelps.

The tom might service one of his hens early in the morning, finish, and quickly come to you while it's still early. Do a cackle run, followed by a few yelps...which means in turkey language: Demand the tom too come to you immediately, so that she can be serviced right away. The sound limit range for a gobble (in the right conditions) is about one mile. If you can find some higher elevations above the swamp...it might be a good roost location for a tom, because he can sound-off louder and his gobble will travel further.

Good luck next spring...


Last edited by Erno86; 09-29-2018 at 08:55 AM. Reason: added a word
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