What makes you a good turkey hunter

Discussion in 'Turkey Hunting' started by kyoutdoorsman, Feb 21, 2019.


    PUBLIC RAT 6 pointer

    Feb 18, 2014
    Been over 20 years since I got my first long beard. Made so many mistakes a few years before I got that one.Every season starts with a prayer and ends with one at the end of season just to make it thru to next year. Man I love the interaction with the birds.I often think of writer Tom Kelly who has killed hundreds of birds say one time, "There is no graduation for a Turkey hunter.If there was I'd still be in kindergarten." I guess myself would be in pre,pre school.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
    Genesis 27:3 and Dark Cloud like this.
  2. mudhole crossing

    mudhole crossing 12 pointer

    Aug 20, 2007
    East ky
    Turkey hunting is not for everybody, unlike a typical deer hunt scenario. I love the exercise from running and gunning. Am I a patient turkey hunter? Hell no by any means. If u hunting fields with limited access I say patience is a must. I've learned over the years that a roosted turkey and a turkey that gobbles at every sound don't mean mean $hit. I don't waste a lot of time on one gobbling turkey. If he don't come within a reasonable amount of time, given I'm in a a good spot that he should come, I move on and hunt him another day if I have another tag. I can't wait til April!!
    Genesis 27:3 likes this.
  3. Velvet ears

    Velvet ears 8 pointer

    Nov 6, 2013
    West KY
    When I hunt, either me or whoever is with me gets a tom within a couple of days. Patience is the main key. It's hard to stay put when they are gobbling 300 yards away, but knowing their daily patterns keeps me in place and it almost always pays off. I know turkey travel patterns much much better than deer. They tend to do the same thing every year where I hunt. I have gotten to the point that I don't put out a decoy and I don't use a call. Knowing where to be trumps everything else. I do on occasion go with a buddy and we do the locate/setup and call method just for fun. It is hit or miss for me. We have so many hens that it is hard to call them away from the pack. My favorite is stalking an afternoon bird in the field. Something about crawling and trying to see how close you can get without being seen excites me, but my success rate is much lower than just knowing where to go in the mornings due to they roost in 2-3 different corners of the field.
  4. xbokilla

    xbokilla 12 pointer

    Jun 28, 2012

    What’s your morning keys? Getting between a roosting area and on their path to a field? Having mostly woods to hunt, I agree with you that knowing travel patterns is of the utmost importance, just like to hear what has made others successful.
  5. bmason

    bmason 6 pointer

    Mar 31, 2006
    What makes me successful is patience and persistence.

    I'm no pro, but I've killed a few birds. I hunt primarily public land. Like someone said earlier, I've been hunting the same area of this wma for 20+ years and I know the lay of the land. When I hear a gobble, I know where it is and how to get there quickly and quietly.

    Decoys IMO are over-rated. I carry 1 and a tail fan strictly to use as a tool in the fields. I rarely use a decoy in the woods.

    Morning or evening... both have been very good to me. Later in the day, you're looking for the RIGHT bird.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  6. bondhu

    bondhu 12 pointer

    Jul 3, 2015
    Battle Run
    Understanding what a turkey wants to do and what he will not do at different stages of the season IMO is the key to consistent success.
  7. Velvet ears

    Velvet ears 8 pointer

    Nov 6, 2013
    West KY
    In the mornings, our setup is pretty ideal. There is a big timber ridge they roost in at the far end of the clover field. The hens typically fly out in the field at daylight and the gobblers hop down on the ridge and walk to the field 15-20 minutes later. They like to use the corner of the field for entry. They usually stop at the corner and strut for the hens that are out in the field in front of them. I typically setup 100 yards from the corner along the field edge in the direction they will travel. Most times the only reason they get by me is if they wander too far out into the field instead of hugging the edge. One way to keep them close to the edge is let the center grow up some and bush hog the outer 75 yards. They tend to stay in the short stuff. This setup has been true for me for the past 15 years. It's almost like clockwork every year. Key is sitting still and not spooking the hens as they make their way past me. In the past I have put out decoys, but it generally spooks the hens away.

    In the afternoons it's the exact opposite. Key is getting in early enough before they make their way back to the field. They re-enter the woods at the same corner typically.

    Woods hunting is totally different. Knowing where they are going (a nearby field) is key. No matter how good you call, if it is in the opposite direction you won't get him. Midday hunting is better for calling. Toms are broken away from the hens and they come to calls much easier as you probably already know. Midday in the woods, I like to find a gently sloped ridge they typically travel and setup and call every 15 minutes. Our turkeys use the same path all day on the ridges. Think of it like deer hunting with a grunt call. Typically if a tom is nearby, he will gobble then the game is on. I have good success doing this method too. Gotta sit still though. You never know when one is 30 yards away that you can't see.
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    INKYHUNTER Cyber-Hunter

    Dec 10, 2001
    Bowling Green, KY, USA.
    Their is a definite learning curve, and trial an error teaches. You don’t need to be a expert caller, just master the basics. Hunting woods is different from hunting fields. Don’t over call, to much calling will impress you more than the turkeys. I find it’s easier to work them up hill rather than down. My farm is mostly wooded and takes work to get above them. I can still get arround pretty well, but my hearing loss is becoming a big handicap. Enjoy while you can, nothing like a spring morning in a turkey woods, if you can heAr well.
    mudhole crossing likes this.
  9. mudhole crossing

    mudhole crossing 12 pointer

    Aug 20, 2007
    East ky
    Hearing is a big advantage. I use to be able to hear a turkey in the leaves but not so anymore. This will be my 23rd spring and I've only called 1 turkey down the hill and that was years ago. Above or on their same level is a must here in east ky. Never hunted flat land or fields.
  10. JDMiller

    JDMiller 12 pointer

    Jun 12, 2005
    " Between the Rivers "
    I started hunting turkeys in the early 80's as a teenager at LBL ..... mainly on a whim because deer hunting in the fall I was seeing a bunch of turkeys there. So.... I dove head first that next spring and didn't have a clue what I was doing. Did'nt have anyone in my family that turkey hunted or knew anyone period that could give me advice. Turkey hunters were far & few between back then because we didn't have statewide populations ...turkey hunting was more or less a rarity on my end of the state.

    I finally got ahold of a Ben Rogers Lee cassette..... and it helped...I think. I would listen for hours just trying to mimic sounds and trying to grasp what the sound meant. No doubt my calling improved.... but I still wasn't killing turkeys. Guess I went through the drought for 5-6 seasons... its a wonder I didn't quit all together.

    Then probably around 1989.... I was on the north end of the north /south trail at LBL and simply would walk a ways & call ...just to see if I get an old tom cranked up. I'd maybe covered a few hundred yards from the truck and had a bird hammer off... really close. Which it scared the crap out of me...I just sat down by the biggest tree and called again...he was even closer. Seemed like it just took him seconds from where I last heard him to literally be on top of me ....literally strutting down the trail. Put the bead on his head ....killed my first turkey.

    Which needless to say it took.... and wasn't long after we had turkeys in the state to hunt. Killed my second in 1991 ....and been killing them since. Been a rare year that I didn't kill at least one tom....but its happened. I've turkey hunted in northern Missouri & Iowa on a few occasions over the years.... even killed a Rio in Kansas.

    Do I consider myself a good turkey hunter... nope....not in the least...just a lucky one.

    Which my best advice to anyone..... turkey hunting isn't rocket science and simply don't over think it.
    cedar creek and xbokilla like this.
  11. Mainbeam

    Mainbeam 12 pointer

    Jul 7, 2012
    To me turkey hunting is all about adapting. My strategy in the morning is not the same strategy at lunch and it changes again in the evening. If its raining i have a strategy and if it is sunny and hot then im looking for a shady cool spot cause thats where the turks are gonna be. I use decoys i use blinds i use just a call and gun sometimes. Situations are always changing in the turkey woods. A few yrs ago for instance i set up on a gobbler before daylight. The hens flew down as did he. They flocked up at a hundred yrds and a coyote busted em up. The gobbler flew down in the holler to my left and i got out of the blind and high tailed it down a steep drain to a creek. I started cutting up pretty good on the call and he hammered and again and again. He was coming in hot. Damn hen cut him off at about 70 yrds and she led him out in a little wheat bottom. I knew it was game over for what i was trying to do. BUT i said ok you SOB i got something for you. I snuck back up the drain to the top field went to the truck grabbed my scoot n shoot. Went back down the drain tip toed down the creek like an ol apache indian and got to about 80 yrds of the two love birds. I eased up out of the creek bank and started crawling . When i got to about 50 yrds that big ol boy had had enough and tried to run me over. I killed him at 6 steps. Thats kinda what i mean about adapting. Situation changes constantly and if you change with it the turkeys will drop like flies
  12. riverboss

    riverboss 12 pointer

    Jan 26, 2009
    northern ky
    Being a good coyote hunter makes me a good turkey hunter, it has taught me patience!
    I spend on a average yr 3-4 months hunting coyotes and it has taught me how to make the setups that work.
    I also know the turkeys patterns and the lay of the land better than most.
    Woodsman's skills improve after you spend 120 days stalking and reading sign.
    Patience is the #1 thing that will make you successful as long as you have birds to hunt.
    cedar creek likes this.
  13. rlb165

    rlb165 12 pointer

    Dec 10, 2001
    First, I don’t consider myself a good turkey hunter, by any means. We’ve just always had good turkey numbers where we live, and after a while, you realize they kind of do the same things every year, so you set up accordingly. I’ll come back to that.

    We don’t tag out every year. Like I said, we have a pretty good local flock, but we also have quite a few hunters. All of us tagging out would be a disaster. I think my son and I have maybe each tagged out once, years ago. There may or not have been Jakes involved.

    We like to set up 100 yards from where birds are roosted. I’ve spooked ‘em trying to get much closer. Also, I’ve got set up without spooking them, but had them fly the opposite direction because my tree yelps and flydown cackles suck.

    Decoys help or hurt, depending on the situation. To me, the best situation is when the decoys can be seen from a pretty good distance, AND you can make the decoys move, like with fishing line or something, if there’s no wind. My favorite setup is a jake and hen combo. I’ve never used any of the full strut decoys. Really though, I haven’t used decoys at all for a while.

    All birds taken here have been either right off the roost, or mid morning, after the hens have gone to nest. To be honest, I’ve never been able to get a bird to work in the late afternoon.

    Some days, some birds seem to gobble better to some calls than they do others. I can’t say that I’ve done better with any certain call though. The only time I call a lot, is when I’ve got a real hen calling nearby, and a Tom answering her. I interrupt her by making the same call that she is, only louder. That actually works sometimes.

    Really, I’ve never thought about food sources. Here in our area, the most important thing to turkeys is to be in the spots where they can see and be seen the best.
    One of our neighbors has a high spot out in the middle of his 30 acre pasture. I call this spot The Stage. When birds are on it, they can see and be seen for a long way. They wear this spot out until the grass starts growing and makes it harder to strut, (I’m guessing).
    What happens a lot of times, they roost on us, then make their way to The Stage. All we have to do is set up in between wherever they roosted on us, and The Stage.
    If that doesn’t work, we can just be patient, because when the hens leave The Stage and go to nest, the Toms will come back to us, because we were talking to them while they were on their way to The Stage, and they remember.

    This cedar tree is close to our property line. The 2 birds in the top of the picture are pretty close to the highest point of The Stage.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019

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