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New Turkey Hunter (Maryland) - Reading Maps for hunts?

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New Turkey Hunter (Maryland) - Reading Maps for hunts?

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Old 03-14-2019, 02:38 AM
  #1  
Spike
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Question New Turkey Hunter (Maryland) - Reading Maps for hunts?

Hey all,

Let me start off by saying I am new to hunting. I have done a few upland bird hunts, but the birds were placed in the field so I am unsure if I should consider that "hunting". Either way, I caught hunting fever and want to do something more challenging.

I have been prepping for the upcoming turkey spring season. Got all my gear and I've been reading forums, articles, and watching plenty of videos.

My buddies and I go on a camping trip to Green Ridge State Forest in Maryland every year. From what I found, its one of the more popular places to hunt turkey in Maryland. Not really great, but its a place to start. One of my buddies is a avid deer hunter. He is going to join me. He has never been turkey hunting though, so it will be new for both of us.

Now, for the real question... WHERE SHOULD I HUNT? I know no one is going to give me their specific location of where they hunt there, but I was wondering if someone could point me in the right direction. I know I need to using my turkey locator calls to find em, but i need a good place to start!

If I look at the map, what should I look for? If you look at google maps, what would you choose?

I have been using Google Maps to check the terrain at Green Ridge State Forest.

Any tips are appreciated!
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:30 AM
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I've turkey hunted Green Ridge before...with some success.

Look for nearby running streams. Turkeys...especially first born chicks --- need water. Hens like to nest in brushy areas. Highway 68 traffic noise will sometimes drown out turkey gobbles.
On your topo map...look for a series of mountain ridges an saddles, that spread out about halfway down Green Ridge mountain. It makes it much easier going for both turkeys and hunters. And you can pick your choice of ridge to travel on, before you might hit private hunt club property.

Some streams like Maple Run might be dry...but they should still hold occasional exposed pockets of standing water.
Green Ridge Forest Headquarters sells good topo maps of the forest. Don't forget to get their phone number.
One turkey hunter...who gave a lecture on turkey huntin' that I attended --- had another hunter shoot at his turkey decoy at GRSF. Two shotgun pellets hit his camo netting that he was sitting behind. May I suggest...for good safety measure --- Put a tree between you and the decoy ---- that is...if you use one.
Turkey gobbles can easily echo off the ridges...so it might be hard to pinpoint where the gobbler's location is at times.
Coyotes in Maryland...have probably had a dramatic impact on the rate of gobbling.


Good luck...

Erno

Last edited by Erno86; 03-14-2019 at 12:32 PM. Reason: added a word
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Old 03-14-2019, 11:49 AM
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Pull up the area on Google Earth maps and then look at topo maps on https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/

In addition to looking for streams and ridges, try to locate taller trees they might use for roosting. Also look for small open areas inside a larger area of woods - the toms will use these secluded spots as strut zones.

I've never hunted Maryland, but in general, you want to identify the transition zones - where timber meets field, swamp meets timber, pine grove meets hardwoods, etc. - you will find more sign in those areas and can generally increase your odds of success by trying to move them from one zone into another (rather than making them move through acres of timber, etc.).

Be on the constant lookout for sign - tracks, feathers, droppings and dusting bowls. Turkeys will occasionally do something to make you scratch your head, but for the most part they follow the path of least resistance - so look for signs on logging roads, deer trails, river banks, etc. Early in the spring they dig for bugs, pick at any remaining mast left from the fall/winter and eat young shoots of grass - so look on the edges of those fields/open areas on your maps.

Importantly, remember that it is almost always more productive to try and call a turkey up a hill than it is to call a gobbler down a hill. If the hen is at the top of the hill and not moving - then the tom is more likely to take a chance and eventually walk up the hill to see a potential new girlfriend at the top. On the other hand, they get very nervous when going down a hill, and 9/10 times they mostly flat out refuse to walk down a hill - they'll strut back and forth at the top and gobble their brains out for hours. Even with a decoy, at least in my experience, pulling them down a hill (which let's face it, sometimes is your only chance due to property borders, etc.) is at best about a 1/5 chance they move in your direction.
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Old 03-14-2019, 12:32 PM
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Interesting I personally have called toms both up and down hills and then I have had some refuse either way lol
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:41 AM
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Erno86, Thanks for the tips! that really helps a lot. I'll make sure I'm careful out there. I did get some decoys, so I hope no one shoots them! I looked at some topo maps and I think I have some spots picked to check out. I guess it depends on which campsite I can grab.
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Old 03-15-2019, 05:44 AM
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Strut&Rut, Great information. Thanks for the topo map link. That thing is awesome! It really gives me better insight on where to look. I found some open areas in the middle of the woods, near streams. I'll be scouting the area the day before so hopefully all these tips work! I havnt heard the one about calling the turkey up hill before but i will def keep that in mind.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:22 AM
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If legal, I would scout sooner than the day before. Even if you sit in your vehicle in the evenings a week or two before season and listen. Bachelor groups have not broken up yet. So, they are still in winter mode. Won't be long before they break apart.

I would scout at least a couple weeks prior and look for scratches. Areas where turkeys cleared the fallen leaves while feeding.

If you bump one the day before season, you've messed up your opening day. The bird will likely return, but not before the next morning.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Timbrhuntr View Post
Interesting I personally have called toms both up and down hills and then I have had some refuse either way lol
Timber - I've also called them both directions - but in general, it's much easier to call them up the hill than down.

The hens naturally go to the toms to begin with, and therefore when the hen doesn't come to him - then the gobbler thinks (1) she's already with a tom, (2) there's something in the way, or (3) she's found her ideal nesting spot and not moving. These theories have been taught and talked about for decades by hunters like Ray Eye, Knight & Hale and the late-great Lovett Williams.

It's always been proposed as a simple survival instinct because when birds look down a hill and don't see a hen - something screams - this isn't right. The only times I get it to work well are in areas where it's really thick (so transition from open woods to overgrown pasture) or where there are sharp bends in the logging road/deer path - in those instances, the tom realizes he can't the hen because of the terrain, and is therefore more willing to commit. Decoys are the only success I've had when he's on a hardwood ridge and I'm in an open creek bottom, and even then they hang up 8/10 times (at least for me).

Even when you call them up a hill, most of them get a little cagey they get near the summit/peak. If the terrain allows it, they will usually skirt it and move in a somewhat zig-zag pattern until they crest it.

I'll also note this is for Easterns. I know the Rio hybrids in Oregon were easier to pull down hills, and I suspect the Merriams in the mountains or big hills (like the Black Hills) will move in either direction if the mood strikes them, largely because those species travel greater distances anyway.
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:12 AM
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I know of only two fatal deer hunting accidents that occurred in GRSF, which happened over 50 years ago.
One was a deer hunter who claimed he shot at a fox, only to have the bullet ricochet against a rock, and went on to hit an kill another deer hunter.

Another...when a deer hunter was sitting against a large tree --- The bullet entered the opposite side of the tree he was sitting against --- It traveled in a radius, underneath the bark and excited out to hit the back of the deer hunter.

I've had a couple of close calls myself, that occurred in GRSF. One fall turkey season... a kid sprayed shotgun pellets near enough (10 feet) for me to see the pellets rustle the leaves. The 14 year old boy claimed that he was shooting at a squirrel.

Another occurred during first day of a deer season --- When about 10am, I heard a deer that was bedded down in some heavy brush. I could hear a loud rasping breathing sound, that indicated the deer was shot in the throat. I met two other hunters that I've never seen before and told them I was going to investigate the deer on the side of a ridge. I walked up the ridge, and I heard the deer spook --- Then...two bullets snapped nearby, directly over my head, from one of the two hunters who I had just talked too. I hit the ground belly first. One of the hunters shouted to the other hunter not to shoot anymore, because I was still on the ridge. Turns out...the hunter illegally shot & killed the wounded doe and sneaked it out of GRSF.

Of course...the DNR & park rangers patrol the roads of GRSF, and will ask any campers if they have any loaded firearms in the campsite. They'll ask you if they can inspect the firearms. I don't have any qualms about the search technique for loaded forearms in camp, since it is against forest rules to have loaded firearms in a campsite. I don't know whether a CCW permit holder would exempt him from that rule.

Last edited by Erno86; 03-15-2019 at 10:18 AM. Reason: added a word
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:36 AM
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Around 9 or 10 am...if a gobbler responds to you from another ridge... sometimes it will take him only about two minutes for him to run down the ridge and up your ridge too confront you. When he gets near the top of the ridge where a hunter is located. He'll sometimes hide behind a fallen log and stick his head up like a periscope to inspect the top of the ridge.

Any critter can see much further away going up the hill rather than down it.
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