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If the object of turkey hunting was to completely blow your hunt, my turkey hunting resume would read much like a photo negative of Eddie Salter's credits. Blowing a turkey hunt, in the beginning, was not foreign to me; in fact, I was quite adept at getting busted. Prepare yourself for a humorous yet truthful look at what NOT to do when you're turkey hunting. Trust me; if failing is your game, I am your kind of guide! Seriously, the success I now experience in the field is purely based on learning from the train wrecks I created in previous hunts. My loss is your gain. Sit back, laugh and learn the best ways to blow your perfect turkey hunt.
Early Bird gets the Worm!
I don’t know how long the alarm clock screamed at me but it wasn’t nearly enough to rouse me. Oddly enough, it was the distant thunder of my buddy’s ATV engine firing up that caused my body to involuntarily lift to a vertical and panicked posture. In a flash I was dressed. I double-checked my gear, inhaled a granola bar, packed a few extra and headed down the road.
I took note of the waning darkness as I parked my ATV and jogged the last leg to my setup. About 30 yards from my safe haven, the sounds of my labored breathing and heavy footsteps were replaced by the chaotic thrust of heaving wings and shrill alarms. Turkeys blew out of the roost in every direction and remained in flight until only the merciless stillness of a blown hunt remained.
It was my first turkey hunt and already I had learned two cardinal sins plaguing many turkey hunters today, don’t setup up to close to a roosting area and don’t oversleep!
Get a good night’s sleep and ensure you are in your hunting spot at least one hour before sunrise. A good night of rest is worth its weight in gold when it comes to being alert hour after hour while waiting on ol’ Tom. Rest also helps you focus on your best turkey calling and the perfect shot.
Roosts are best found while scouting. If you cannot scout, ask local residents, game wardens or a guide (if you have one) about their observations and suggestions. Avoid setting up too close to a roost; nowadays, I suggest maintaining a distance of at least 75 to 100 yards; I wish I had read an article like this before that hunt.
They’re Turkey, not Deer!
As a deer hunter I was more or less groomed into morning hunts, long lunch breaks and afternoon hunts. Turkey hunting, for me, began no differently. I had no idea where the turkeys were roosting, and it never occurred to me to figure that out. I hunted where I knew I had seen birds. To make matters worse, it never occurred to me to take note of the times I would see the birds in my special hot spots. Countless times I hunted, saw nothing, went to lunch about mid-morning, then returned to the same location in the afternoon to kill little more than time; Siberia offered better opportunities. Then it happened…
After seeing nothing but birds and squirrels again I checked my watch, it was 9:30; time to get some lunch. I don’t think I took more than three steps before I noted no less than 25 or 30 hens and three great toms running the other direction. I had called and called and called but never heard a peep. Several more of these episodes over the season finally taught me the lesson I should have learned that first morning; when it’s time to get up and go, wait longer!
The place I hunt is not nearly as close as I would like it to be to where the turkeys roost. However, since I decided to spend full, or nearly full, days in my setup I’ve taken many more birds; in fact, very few of my turkeys have been killed before 9 a.m. Turkeys move ALL day. I also learned a great side lesson that day, just because they aren’t vocalizing, it doesn’t mean they aren’t coming; be patient!
I have discovered an infinite number of ways to blow my turkey hunts. My hope is to simply impart that knowledge to all of you so may also bear witness to the satisfaction of your own blown hunts and pass your wisdom to those who follow in our wandering footsteps. Hunt hard, hunt often and if you need help blowing your next hunt give me a call, I’m a professional.
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