Contributors to this thread:
Your turkey strategies...
(2016: Bumping old thread from last year...)
I am no TBM. I've killed a few birds but still don't think I know anything.
And I'm an engineer. So I love data.
I was thinking about my successful hunts. I wonder if my experience is similar to otehrs....
So how have you killed your birds?
Here are my results: 21 birds total.
8 birds: Set up in morning with decoys. Waited. Called occasionally. Eventually birds came right to decoys. Note: They usually didn't come it first light. It was usually 8:00 until 10:00 when they finally got there.
4 birds: Roost birds night before. Sneak in very early and directly under roost. Wait for an hour or so. Shoot bird at fly down. With decoys.
4 birds: Stake out good path. Or see birds walking and set up in front of them. No decoys. Ambush bird when he gets close enough.
4 birds: Call birds in without decoys.
1 bird: "Fanning". Showed "pretty boy", tom ran in and I shot him.
0 birds: stalking
0 birds: running and gunning. Calling while walking and get a response. Set up with or without decoys. Hot bird comes in.
I've killed maybe 15 or so, I don't keep track that closely but I can only shoot 1 or 2 per year depending on my luck drawing tags so that seems right. Every single one falls into the first category, although it really is more of a combination of 1 and 2.
Full disclaimer... 18 of the 21 birds were taken with a shotgun. All of the bow killed birds were taken with the first strategy
I've killed a few spot and stalk.
Killed 1 "fanning."
Called in a few others.
I've killed 102-107... I'll have to check the photo books and beards to be exact. I've called in/guided close to 252 additional kills... Out of all those kills.... 85 percent call ins to deeks (both roost hunt and mid day) 7 percent spot stalk (with little calling) 6 percent jake sneak/fanning 2 percent luck with birds being dumb or being in rt spot rt time.
Wen things don't work out you improvise. I like killin em any way I can. Really cool wen you can Indian sneak em but it has to be dam near perfect as their eyesight is amazing!! I never counted how many I've killed but I ain't no trkyslr :-)
In the Northeast I hunt them like deer and ambush!
The word with bow is perserverance! Some guys spend a lot more time behind decoys, others stalk and ambush, others run a gun, others fanning. You'll likely get better and better at which ever method/s you use the most.
I change things up dramatically depending upon the particular mood the gobblers are in at that particular time in the year. I would likely use different tactics early when birds are flocked up in large groups vs late in the season when hens start nesting and toms are on the prowl.
wow trkyslr... you are like a master at killing turkeys with a bow...
So all those turkeys that you called in... was that just in good spot, a roost spot, or a strut zone? or did you get the bird to gobble first and then set up?
Mad angler,, nope I'm way behind an Alabama guy but also he's twice my age ;-) lol Here in my home state I began only hunting public and over he years aquired private land to hunt. Now I hunt mostly the private with some public land hunts here and there. I would say out of all the call in hunts probably 40 percent were kills off the roost (within one hour from fly down), 40 percent between 10am-2pm, and the remaining 20 percent in the time in between or after 2 pm including some afternoon fall kills. Even the fall kills the lasts few years are mostly killed over decoys with calling. The number of kills is also due to the number of days I hunt each season. I hunt on average 20-25 days during spring seasons, so when I'm tagged out I take out as many friends, family, and now the yearly bowsiters as I can. I truelly enjoy calling in birds for others as much as if not more then killing them myself.
Do you run and gun?
To be clear, I consider this to walk through the woods and call every once in a while. Keep doing this until a tom answers. Some folks even make sure that a gobbler answers twice. You cut the distance as much as possible. You find a spot to hide, maybe set out a decoy, then call the bird in.
All of the above is theory. I've read about it but I've never done it myself...
And my disclaimer madangler is the first 20 or so are boomstick kills.. Rest since then mostly bow.
Mad yes probably 90 percent of the time we (joe and i) run and gun birds... i can't stand sitting and waiting on birds when it's quiet with no birds in sight.. My moto is there is always a hot bird wanting to die somewhere so I go and find him. Cover ground with boots and checking different properties until I find that soon to be dead bird.
Killed a lot, (quit keeping track at 100...and wish I'd never started counting), though most with shotguns until the past few seasons. Hunted 36, total.
Guided, helped, a lot 1.5 to 2 X Never really kept track but best season as killer or caller was 25. (Probably all shotgun, seven states and reservations.)
Favorite style of hunting, by far, is run and gun or bow and go, but with hearing issues worsening (childhood ear infections plus age) it's harder to do. Terrain and property size can also be limiting. Love the big woods of the Ozarks and the Rockies or Black Hills.
Most memorable were doing it with my kids, the boy I'm mentoring or a LIttle Brother or Big Brother/Sister smacking their first bird.
The past 10 years the decoying has been as big as the calling, including the fall.
Favorite time to hunt?....warm January mornings, near a gobbler roost, with a good jake decoy.
I call a lot, and pretty aggressively compared to a lot of people, but probably not the Cali-Cillers.
Best call for sparking a bird - a specially-picked and tuned Lohman box. Favorite killing call is one of three or four "slate" calls I also have in the vest.
Favorite sound is when the mid-day, late-season gobbler gives you the second hard gobble because the dude is probably fixing to leave dead or scared.
Writer I'm with you on this as I too love the run and gun style and have killed many many turkeys. Probably closer to 200 than 100 but not really sure exactly. Also ran my own guide service for a while so probably called in as many for other people to kill. Most have been with a gun but a few with bow. Though I can't stand sitting in a blind and waiting for the turkey to possibly come by. I agree with trkslr, there is always a hot bird some where so I like to go find him and take the action to him. That game seems to keep my interest a whole lot longer. The "new" fad of fanning looks exciting so I'll probably give that a try this week. Turkey hunting is definitely the epitome of the "time spent rule". Stick with it and your own hunting style will emerge. I always say your hunting style will choose you based on you aggressiveness, determination and personality. But your hunting strategy will change with each hunt based on the circumstances within that hunt. Good luck!
Wow. trkyslr, writer, and longbeard are all masters at this...
So, how does running and gunning work? what do you do? Is it all about getting a tom to answer you? What tricks do you use to get him to answer you?
Or do you try to spot him first and then work him once you see him. How do read him once you see him to know how to work him?
Run and gunnin If I'm searching for a bird to respond I cover ground staying up high to hear better or common turkey travel routes. Depending on thickness of terrain will vary my frequency of calling to locate birds. The thicker the woods the more frequent I'll call for example every 50-100 yards. When I'm hunting more open ground i may call every 100-200 yards. Also terrain features such as hills and drop offs will get me to call just before I get towards the top or edge just in case there's a bird close on the other side. Here in nor call 90 percent of land I hunt is hills so it's a diff ball game vs farm land like the Midwest. Re calling when I get to a spot to locate a bird I may use a locator (crow or honker) or turkey call. About 70% time turkey call unless birds are sounding off at even a mouses fart. If I'm using a turkey call I start off with some soft yelps and clucks. If I don't get a response after listening for 20-30 seconds I'll call again with more attitude. Usually some faster louder yelps. If that doesn't get a response I'll then hittm with some loud aggresive cutts and loud yelps. I usually hurt the ears of guys around me when I let loose and call loud but it works well for me. Once I get a response I plan my setup if he's close or move closer if he's further away then setup. Some spots where I always kill birds I may hear one 600 yards away and setup rt where I'm at because in the past I've called birds in to that spot I called from from that far distance. Once the bird(s) are committed and coming I keep track of them with a call every 20-30 seconds if he's answering each all and getting closer... If he's being tough on responding to my calls but coming I'll call with less frequency. I could go on and on but chores are calling so I'll add more later on...
It ain't real "cuttin' and runnin'" unless I end the spring with blisters on my feet and a callous on my left thumb. (I use it to hold the lid on the left side of the box call while I pound the heck out of it with my right hand.)
I"m not as polite as Joe, in that I skip the soft talk, and the foreplay and get pretty serious when I'm trying to ignite a bird on the move.
I may hit a crow call mid-day, or coyote owl on an elk diaphragm first, but after that's it's four to six sharp cuts followed by a pretty long string of raspy, suggestive, horny yelps.
I love that first few seconds after moving in to a new area and filling the air, waiting for a gobble to come. It's kind of like when you feel a bass pick up a Texas-rigged plastic worm and he starts moving off.
The anticipation is a lot of the fun.
It can't be done everywhere, but I've done it while covering 6-10 miles a day in the Ozarks or New Mexico Rockies by boot, floating a Missouri stream, from horseback, out the window of a coasting Jeep, from a high-tired swamp buggy in Florida....you get the idea.
You have to match your calling, and how far between strikes, to the area you're hunting.
Sometimes that may mean walking another 300 yards. Sometimes it may mean driving 30 minutes to hunt another small piece of property. If it's the latter, I may set-up and give it an hour or two.
Some guys love the "yelp twice, cluck 1 1/2 times" and shut up for three or four days.
I love to hear them gobble so I'm calling. I love to watch them strut so I'm using quality decoys.
Spare me the "that'll never work on our....."
For you guys who run and gun, how often have you had birds come in silent and how often did you catch them sneaking in before getting busted?
What time of day works best for running and gunning?
Do you set up like normal before first light and the switch to R&G after the morning rush is over?
Do you sleep in and get to the woods around 10:00?
Or do you start right at first light?
Vogiemn rarely as I call aggresive which is hard for most birds to be silent... Even the quietest old toms gobble back at me a few times when I get loud.
Mad, I usually hunt roosted birds so yes after the roost setup if nothing's working my calls I'll move. I probably hunt 60 percent from one hour before sunrise to 4 pm... 40 percent a later morning start time. Running gunning works all day.
Vogie that kind of stuff does happen, there are down falls to every strategy. Many times, especially on windy days when you may not hear them respond. Its all part of the game. Or, Sometimes they don't gobble until they are right on you, so you may have to dive for cover and end up getting busted while doing that. But, If you make a habit out of stopping next to a big tree to call, you can all but eliminate that problem. Run and gun, in my opinion is by far the best way to hunt turkeys. I feel sorry for the guys who won't do it or have never tried it.
Mad_Angler yes I always start at first light with the classic "roost" set up. I then move on to the R & G style of hunting as the morning progresses. Personally if I have the time to be in the woods I would never sleep in until mid-morning. I love turkey hunting too much and the whole picture, from gobbling on the roost to how they are reacting at 9 am and later, tells me a lot of info that I need to know to figure out how to proceed with that day and the next days hunt. It really helps me figure out where they are in their breeding cycle, which helps me figure out my options. Sometimes you can cover miles and miles hiking and calling but you will never get a positive response its just the nature of the game...
I'm not sure running and gunning is the best way to kill turkeys, but it is, to me, the most fun way to kill turkeys.
Like Joe said, it's pretty hard for a gobbler to stay quiet when the calling is like that. Sometimes the first set of cutting and yelping is almost bringing a shock gobble.
Sometimes the calling can be too aggressive, and some birds may end up shy. There's positives and negatives in all kinds of hunting strategies.
But, I'll also promise you there have been MANY times someone like Joe or I have fired up, and peeled a subdominant two or three year old off a flock that's being ruled by a more dominant tom because we got in close, and got aggressive.
Run and gun is a GREAT way to find roosted birds, too, including the last hour of the day. No, you may not be able to get one to break off his route to where he's roosting. But if you can get him gobbling, you may be able to eventually get a visual on him and see if he's alone or with hens.
If he's solo, and gobbled a lot on the roost the prior evening there's a pretty good chance you can kill him in a classic roost hunt the next morning.
Running and gunning, or cutting and running as we call it, is just one more tool that you can use as a turkey hunter. I use it less and less because of the limited size of the properties I now hunt, and because I often have a kid or first-timer with me.
But when I finally make it back out west to hunt Merriams in the Black Hills, I'll be sleeping well every night from exhaustion. :-)
One of the things I've found, and I used to hunt regularly with some of the best of the best - Eye, Salter, Drury, Harris, Hugil, Blanton, Waddell, Keck, Haas, - is that they're very versatile, and good at knowing what tactic will work best at the time.
All used run and gun a lot, but could also know when to tone it down and kill 'em with patience.
Also, all were GREAT callers. There's no doubt woodsmanship is more important than calling ability.
BUT you show me a great woodsman who is ALSO a great caller and I'll show you the deadliest turkey hunter around.
Agree on the last line Joe, Chirs?
I really like your first statement.
That is the reason I hunt deer the way I do. It is certainly the most fun to me. No idea if it is most effective. Others, Jake for example really like sitting in a blind and having the deer mill around where he can get a very good look at them up close.
It is all about what you enjoy the most.
Turkeys, I enjoy eating them the mostly. :)
Michael yes I agree on best woodsman and best/great caller who knows calling and what he says to a bird is deadly on turkey populations! Knowing the turkey language and when to say (yelp, cluck, cutt, pew-pew, purr, kee-kee, gobble) the right thing makes a diff imo.
LOL @/'Writer', that about sums up my calling duration. I typically hunt the latter seasons and have had more neutral to negative responses when calling, either hens lead the tom away, the tom continues to go back and forth between strut zones, or they just stop gobbling. But one thing I don't do anymore is yelp, I purr and cluck, or I do loud cutting.
But my calling is secondary, I don't rely on it. I typically set up where they want to go and I don't try putting birds to bed in the eve or wonder around during the day trying to strike one up. But I will set up near the roost for the return trip. I only call when I want to try and pull a tom in if he is doing his thing out of site or range.
I hunt turkeys like deer, I try and be were they want to be and decoying and/or calling is secondary. But my turkey hunting experience has me he hunting deer like turkeys, with blinds decoying and calling.
So I take a more defensive approach to turkey hunting and a more offensive approach to deer. With deer it's really paid off and I missed the buck of a lifetime last fall while hunting behind a Ghost Blind. He was much closer than I thought, he also ducked and my arrow sailed over his back. But with big bucks, the running/bow approach pays off because you aren't limited to tree stands and they can't pattern you.
Great thread from last year. Anything to add??
Still doing it the same way but did add a little and I mean little bit of patience, which killed a couple more birds for our group and 3 to my total.
Patience is a relative term, Chris.
So...that means you only walk at 10 mph trying to strike a bird, instead of the 12 mph in past seasons?
Man, it's tough getting old. :-)
Lol no writer that's just silliness walking that fast. At a couple spots where the birds were non responsive we have the spot a few more minutes wait before we made a move or searched for another bird that paid off. The thing is we did this at other spots and nada, so question is did that time take away from a kill at another spot or missed opportunity.. I guess it's better to not not know that answer ;-)
I lost count a long time ago, but I would estimate that I have killed somewhere between 40 & 50 birds. Being from a one bird state, I have to go to other states to get my fill each year. I'd guess that 1/2 or so of my birds are with my bow in the past 12-13 years that I have exclusively bow hunted. In all of that time, whether gun or bow the bulk of my birds have been killed mid to late morning. I'd say 9:00-11:00 range. I don't kill too many off the roost and only 4 or 5 in the afternoon/evening (mostly due to other life commitments keeping me from hunting then). I do know that all but one of my bow turkeys has been over a decoy spread out of a ground blind. I did kill one with my bow that I can remember with no blind or decoys. Of my gun hunting days, the vast majority were with no decoys, just a call and a 12 ga. (old school or the "right way" according to the southern traditionalists)
I do know that of all my birds, they all have been long beards except two jakes and one bearded hen. I have killed all 4 of the main Grand Slam sub-species though not all in one year.
As an engineer myself you would think that I would have kept data on my hunting. Sadly I never have for any of my hunting (deer, turkey, waterfowl, etc.).
I sit at home/work and look at threads on bowsite. Is that a strategy? Okay, probably not.
DEC...you live in a one bird state?
Terms of your parole not let you move somewhere else? :-)
No parole ... squeaky clean record. My wife won't let me move to another state. Trust me, as a turkey hunter I'd much rather live west of the Mississippi where they tend to allow you to kill more than one bird a year.
Living in a one bird area myself I can attest to feeling your pain DEC. Some years though I get lucky enough to get a shotgun tag to fill along with my archery tag if I have a couple bonus points. Those are the good times.
I really need to acquire some ground in northwest Ohio. Two birds there and only 15 minutes from my house to the state line. I used to hunt Michigan regularly (one bird) until they jacked the license fee up. I quit buying one then out of protest ... I doubt the State of Michigan cares much about the loss though. ;)
DEC - someone once said, "You'll run out of health before running out of money from hunting licenses." That is what convinced me to buy 3 nonres Nebraska turkey permits at $97 each. Yes, more than it costs to buy a nonres antlerless deer tag in the same state. Their pricing makes no sense: how can a turkey cost more than a deer???
I've had great fun and have great memories. 2 birds killed so far, and one to go. Go hunt, have fun! Make memories.
I'm very happy I say that saying and changed my attitude on tag prices.
Many, but calling with two hand calls at Once and one mouth to sound like Multiple Birds...... Decoys and set ups and blinds, and just covering Miles for the Mtn Merriam ( no planted fields above 7000 feet . and steep Canyons on a newhip . Moving away from a gobbler to get him to think you are leaving ( or calling softer) or towards a diff direction
Latest -Glitter on the decoys to reflect the sunlight on the decoys Bodies...works as well as glitter on Fishin lures , 8 with bow, N am Slam with bow and 83 gobblers so far . ( PA, TX, AL, Ga, Fl and CO )