Daniel recently headed to central Kansas to kick off his turkey season with an archery hunt! There was a lot of turkey action and feathers were flying. Plus, Heath Martin tags a mature mountain tom in Arkansas, during opening day!
If toms aren’t talking where you hunt and you’re just itching to hear a gobble, then this video will fire you up!
Tip of the Week:
A Caldwell FieldPod can keep your gun in the ready position so you’re not scrambling to get the gun up when a silent tom walks in.
Turkey hunting is not always easy. We all love it when the gobblers respond to our calls then come in strutting with big fans, long beards and wings dragging. But it doesn’t always happen that way. Some days hunters just have to work harder and smarter to get those toms in range.
The weather has played havoc with turkey hunting these past few weeks. We’ve had hunters from Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri to Wisconsin and states in-between share their frustrations with hunting and the unusual spring weather: colder temperatures, rain, and even snow.
For us and others, it’s been a tough year to locate gobblers. Hunting in Tennessee, then Kansas and now Missouri has had us pulling out all the tools and tricks to get birds in range.
Here in Missouri, it’s early in the season, the toms seem to be henned up. When they are with the hens it is hard to entice them away with calling.
Here are some tips to use if you find yourself in a similar situation:
- Try to call hens in as the toms often follow. Use soft feeding calls: yelp, soft purr, or relaxed (not aggressive) clucks.
- Set up your decoys in feeding positions.
- If you KNOW there are toms in the area – sit still and wait. It’s not necessarily fun since the interaction and action is missing but patience can be your best strategy to punch a tag when that tom quietly comes into the field.
- Every day is different. Just because the birds don’t respond one day, they may the next. Keep trying.
- Weather: birds are still out there when it’s cold and windy, they’re quiet but still moving and feeding. Figure out where they are roosting and feeding then get in-between or in front of them.
We had two good examples of turkey hunts last year where the unseasonably cool and wet spring posed challenges during turkey season. You can see how changing locations and strategies paid off for Clay and I in this video when turkey hunting during the late season and the toms went quiet and did not respond to our locator calls.
Also, Heath and Lindsey’s Kansas hunt last year required a change in strategies. After a few days of colder weather they went out for a hunt. The weather during the first morning of their hunt seemed perfect but the toms were silent. They adjusted their strategy for the afternoon and soon had a gobbler in range. Watch that hunt by clicking here.
Our encouragement to you if you haven’t tagged yet is to remember the three “P’s” of turkey hunting: patience, persistance and position.
While you’re hunting, take time to listen not just to the gobblers but also for what the Creator is saying to you.
During Missouri's youth season first time turkey hunter, Chase, braced the cold, snowy weather to hunt longbeards! It was cold but the hot turkey action warmed him right up! Watch as Chase's entire hunt unfolds. Plus, Grant travels to South Carolina to help a landowner improve their property and pine management.
Internships are a great way to help the future generation of hunters and wildlife managers.
Meet one of our current interns, Jacob Hamilton from Jackson, TN.
Daniel and Tyler were turkey hunting in Kansas. It's always a good day when turkeys come in! Catch the excitement in this short video clip.
Tip of the Week:
Placing the iSCOPE on your turkey gun the day before the hunt saves time and ensures you're ready when the first tom fires off.
Grant gives tips for shooting turkeys at close range with a bow. Plus, see why we’re switching from perennial clover to annual clover in some of our plots as Grant shares how the Buffalo System provides quality forage and builds soil during the spring months.
An effective tool for turkey hunters can be quality decoys. Learn how we determine when to use a specific decoy set-up.
Learn how to take a soil sample and prepare for spring planting.
Tip of the Week:
A sharpening stone can make a great conditioner for pot calls.
I’ve recently shared tips from world champion turkey callers that will help us all become better at turkey calling and hunting this season. Becoming a proficient caller is the first key to get a tom to close the distance.
My decoy setups are chosen based on the different hunting situations. These are things like the local terrain, where the birds are in the breeding season and the habitat. Below are several decoying strategies I use.
Lone Hen: My initial “go to” when I am turkey hunting is the lone hen. A lone hen has proven to be very effective in catching the attention of a gobbler. (The Miss Purr-fect by Montanna Decoys is the ideal decoy for the lone hen strategy.)
Jake/Hen combo: A jake decoy with a hen can be a strong attractant to a dominant tom. I use this combo frequently at the beginning of the hunting season when the toms are sorting out their dominance. I position the jake about two to three feet away from the hen then put the head up so that red head draws the attention of the dominant gobbler. It’s a good idea to put the lone hen in a feeder pose to create a more natural and enticing setup. Think about it: if both are upright and alert they are sending communicating that something has them nervous. As the season progresses, this remains an effective setup. As the days go on, hens leave and go sit on the nest. When it appears that a jake still has a hen with him it can make a boss tom jealous and get him fired up to come into range! One of my favorites is having a jake sit right behind a hen when she’s in the breeding pose.
Breeder Hen/Full Strut Tom: When toms are running together and working to sort out who’s the boss, another effective decoy strategy is to put a hen decoy in a breeding position in combination with a strutting tom. I set the Miss Purr-fect hen decoy on the ground (without a stake) in a breeder pose, then add a Papa Strut behind her. The local toms will see the “intruder” and come in to see who’s messing with their hen!
Three Hens: Setting up three hens is an almost irresistible setup for a tom. It’s especially effective if you’re hunting an area with bully jakes and gobblers won't come in. But what gobbler is not coming in to three hens? When you stake out the hens, put one in the breeding pose, another in a feeding pose and another in an alert pose.
I mentioned above that we use Montana Decoys. These are easy to carry, multiple decoys can fit into your vest and they are very versatile. The days of lugging a bagful of hard, loud decoys are over! They just fold up to fit in your vest; they are adjustable and have different leg pole sleeves to enhance various poses. Think about the message you want to send when posing the heads of the decoys and add movement by using their Motion Stake.
We’ve used all these setups at different times and in different states. Each one has proven successful during the right conditions. When scouting and then during the hunt, read the mood of the turkeys and create your decoy strategy around those observations.
For more details on how to setup your decoys, click here to get a free guide from Montanna Decoy.
Chasing turkeys, setting up decoys and enjoying Creation,
We recently held our annual Field Days at The Proving Grounds. Follow along as we share our management and hunting techniques with fellow landowners and hunters! Get an inside look and see the fun we had along the way!
There were so many kind, friendly folks here at the Field Event: 128 folks from Georgia to New York to Michigan to Texas. Each and every one of them were passionate about deer hunting and deer management. Here are a few of the folks and just a little insight into why they came.
Learn tips on how to film a quality turkey hunt that you can share with your family and friends!
Here's a video to watch and listen to over and over! Watch World Champion Friction Turkey Caller Steve Morgenstern as he shows how to call turkeys. Listen, practice and learn!
Tip of the Week:
Turkeys can get very close and that means you may need to use your 30 or 40 yard pin to hit the target. Practice close shots to prepare for turkey season.
Fire conditions have been good and we continue to burn! Watch as the GrowingDeer Team plans and executes a successful prescribed fire of a bedding area. Then, pull out your turkey calls and follow along: world champion caller Steve Morgenstern stops by to share calling and turkey hunting tips!
Have you patterned your turkey gun yet? We share 7 tips to remember while patterning your gun before opening day.
This bobcat has to get up-close to figure out if this is a real turkey or not! He gives this Montana Decoy a good sniff to make his decision!
Tip of the Week:
A jake decoy can be a very effective tool during early breeding season while toms still sort out dominance.
We’ve been preparing for turkey season – practicing our calls, doing a lot of prescribed fire and getting our decoys ready.
In addition to scouting and practicing turkey calls, this is the time of year to make sure and spend some time patterning your turkey gun. In my opinion, this is the most important thing to do before a hunt. (I recently patterned the 12 gauge before our Florida turkey hunt.)
Here are a few tips to consider when you are patterning your shotgun:
- The most important aspect to remember when you head to the range is to grab your hearing protection. Always, always protect your hearing when shooting or when around loud equipment. Good hearing is vital to turkey hunting and enjoying Creation.*
- While this seems obvious, it needs to be said: shoot the same shell that you’ll be using when turkey hunting. Don’t go the cheap route and use an off brand when testing your gun. Know how both your gun and the load perform together.
- Since you are testing the accuracy of the gun, take out the other sources of error. Use a gun rest or shooting bench, shoot from a seated position and measure the guns performance, not yours. You can go to a shooting range or do what I do and use a Lead Sled and Stable Table from Caldwell Shooting Supplies.
- Test the gun at different yardages. Notice how the pattern changes as the distance increases because when you are in the field that tom might hold up at 40+ yards or surprise you and come in really, really close! Making a kill with a turkey gun can be easier at 30 yards than 10 yards. This is because the shot pattern of a turkey gun is smallest at close range. It would be much easier to miss a tom at 10 yards, due to the very tight pattern, than at 30+ yards.
- Before you go to the range, check out this handy tool that I use: the Winchester Pattern Board Application on Winchester.com.
- What gauge shotgun will you be using? Consider the weight of your gear if you’re running and gunning. I have found that by carrying the light and collapsible Montana Decoys and switching to a 20 gauge, it’s a lot lighter when you're standing on one ridge and that tom fires off on the other ridge. Winchester now has a 20 gauge in Long Beard XR. I love the idea of toting a 20 gauge over these Ozark Mountains.
- Think about the benefits of using a scope on your shotgun. If you’ve ever shot the Long Beard XR shells from Winchester, you know how tight they pattern. And if you’ve got a bird at 20 or 30 yards or even 15 yards, you could miss easily if you're just using a bead. And if you're at 40 yards, you want to make sure the gun’s bead isn’t covering the entire tom. Plus, a scope keeps your head down and you know exactly where your point of aim is going.
Many of our friends across the southern portion of the US are already out in the turkey woods. We’ll be doing the same soon as we travel to hunt in Tennessee!
When you’re out there – remember to take time, look around and thank the Creator for all His blessings and the ability to live in a country where we have the freedom to hunt.
*When I’m hunting I wear WildEar hearing protection. These have been great to wear in the field. Small and custom fit that protect your ears from extreme noise and gun blasts that also provide hearing enhancement. I’ve lost hearing from years of shooting without protection. The WildEar helps me to hear turkeys and other sounds in the woods that I cannot hear with my natural hearing.
Grant and Clay head to south Florida to kick off the 2018 turkey season! It's early in the breeding season and Grant has to switch his hunting tactics to bring a longbeard into range. Plus, Grant stalks a sounder of hogs to bring home fresh pork!
spring field days 2018:
Learn how to improve the habitat and hunting on your hunting grounds March 23rd and 24th at Spring Field Days! Registration is limited to 100 participants. Register now as there are only a few spots still available.
new weekly blog:
For those turkey hunts that don’t go quite as planned or toms just go silent one of the best tools to locate a gobbler is a crow call. Find out how a crow call can be an effective call in your turkey vest!
This video will get you fired up to practice your calling! Turkey calling in action and getting results. Watch this turkey calling sizzle reel!
Tip of the Week:
Having a small saw or pruner in your turkey vest is great for clearing shooting lanes on the go!
Last week we shared turkey hunting tips for locating turkeys with an owl call. The owl call is the first call out of our vests when we hit the turkey woods. As we go through the day, other calls start to come out to call in or locate those toms.
World Champion Caller James Harrison has some advice for those turkey hunts that don’t go quite as planned, when the toms went the other way or just go totally silent. In these type of hunting situations he considers one of the best tools to use to locate more gobblers a crow call.
Crow calls are louder, sharper and will get the toms to gobble. It is one of James’ favorite tools to get turkeys gobbling.
In the early morning hours, if you’ve tried an owl call without response from the turkeys, James suggest changing things up. You can even use them right off the roost if you’ve got a lot of owls in your area. If the owls are hooting and the turkeys aren’t gobbling, make a crow call.
He definitely recommends using a crow call from midday on.
For those states that allow all day hunting, they are especially good for the afternoon and early evening before the birds go on the roost.
If you’re hunting with a partner have them step away from you (the caller) so that they can listen for the tom’s response to the call (just like with the owl call) as crow calls are extremely loud.
James recommends crow calls with a sequence of three to four short bursts, varied in length. Listen. Repeat.
If you’re “tuned up” you can get crows to respond back and actually call in crows! When another crow responds back, he’s actually locating the turkeys for you!
The more realistic you can be with your crow call the better off you’re going to be when turkey hunting! Locator calls like the owl call and the crow call can be practiced outside without educating the turkeys in your area as you “learn” the calls. So while you’re sitting on the porch, checking trail cameras, fishing at the pond, shed hunting, or just doing yard work – take your crow call along and get some practice in!
A special thank you to James for these helpful tips! We hope they will bring you success this year on your next turkey hunt!