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Turkey Behavior Questions
Turkey
Contributors to this thread:
shedhorn 28-Apr-17
Brotsky 28-Apr-17
Bowfreak 28-Apr-17
t-roy 28-Apr-17
shedhorn 28-Apr-17
HUNT MAN 28-Apr-17
PECO 28-Apr-17
Paul@thefort 28-Apr-17
JohnB 28-Apr-17
writer 28-Apr-17
drycreek 28-Apr-17
flyingbrass 28-Apr-17
Knife2sharp 28-Apr-17
jims 28-Apr-17
Paul@thefort 29-Apr-17
jims 29-Apr-17
drycreek 29-Apr-17
From: shedhorn
28-Apr-17
I have some questions as a new turkey hunter. I've killed some but they are all pretty much by accident. Trying now to figure out what I'm doing and learn to at least try to call them in instead of just stumbling around until I find one dumb enough to look at me long enough for me to shoot.

Hunted pretty hard this last weekend and had a few things happen that I can't explain. We were hunting Merriams in steep country in Montana. Near as we know tell though there are people around they don't get hunted there at all. In four days Friday to Monday did not see another hunter. The bottoms had water and meadows. Ridges up above were very steep and covered with mostly ponderosa pine. Weather was generally sunny with one really foggy mid morning and some very scattered rain. Saw at least one turkey every day but never in the open -- always up on a ridge in the timber. Saw them at various times through the day but nothing early in the morning.

I'm not a good caller and don't use anything but a push button call, but I've in the past at least been able to get turkeys to gobble back to it. This trip not so much. Over 4 days got 3 birds to answer. Killed the first one but mostly through luck -- walked towards the sound and was about to call again when I saw it feeding 30 yards ahead of me. Like I said, luck.

The other two didn't act like anything I've seen before. The first one gobbled twice to our calls and then never again. We gradually moved in to where it had called from and never saw a bird or heard another answer. I can't figure out what was going on there. Later that morning the fog rolled in very heavy, not sure if that was a factor or not. When we were calling to it it was clear and right after daylight.

The second time we got an answer very close -- 75 yards or less -- and got an answer every time we called. Problem was the turkey was getting farther every time it answered until finally it didn't answer at all. It didn't see us but I'm guessing it had heard us and knew something was not right. It went right over the top of a mountain to get away from us.

We got so gun shy with not getting answers that we pretty much quit calling wondering if the sound was so bad we were running turkeys away from us.

Before that our general strategy was to wander through likely looking turkey country calling about every 100 to 200 yards. If and when we got an answer we would decide how to proceed. Problem was we rarely got an answer.

Other thing that may be a factor was every gobbler we saw was a jake. I'm not sure how they respond to a call -- maybe they were afraid to answer? But also don't know why all we saw were jake's.

So I guess my long winded question can be boiled down to three parts.

One, could it be that my calling was so bad I was scaring birds away? I can see where it might not be good enough to call one in but I've never had a problem getting at least a shock gobble back.

Second, what does fog do to them calling wise?

And third, it seemed odd that we never saw a bird out in the grass. There were times we could see for a long ways right at daylight and then throughout the day. Never saw a bird out in the open.

Any and all advice welcomed. Thank you.

From: Brotsky
28-Apr-17
My advice to you shed is don't wander through the woods sounding like a turkey. Get yourself a crow call or other locator call. If I'm a tom and I hear you calling and I get interested, then I hear you calling again a 100 yards closer I'm just going to let you come to me. Use a locator call to get a bead on the bird and then move in closer and set up to call that bird in. Learn how to use a box call, slate, or diaphragm. You can mimic so many more turkey sounds and actually start saying things to a turkey rather than just cluck cluck yelp. Once you start saying the things a turkey needs to hear he's going to be a lot more willing to pay you a visit. Keep at it, there's lots to learn and there's a lot of good turkey hunters on this site willing to help!

From: Bowfreak
28-Apr-17
My bet is you are spooking turkeys. If you don't have e ground between you and them they probably are seeing you. The birds sound call shy but possibly just educated quickly of you were moving aot through the open areas.

From: t-roy
28-Apr-17
Brotsky X2, plus, your calling is probably not as bad as you think it is. I've had birds calling that I absolutely knew had to be a hunter, only to show up. Sometimes,the real thing sounds pretty bad.

From: shedhorn
28-Apr-17
Locator call is a good idea. I knew they existed but hadn't thought about it like that. Interesting thing. There are a lot of pheasants in the area and we heard more gobbles in response to pheasant calls than we did to us. That would reinforce the idea. Thanks!

From: HUNT MAN
28-Apr-17
Need a partner?? I would be willing to share some of my turkey experiences with a fellow Montana hunter! I kill one once! Hunt

From: PECO
28-Apr-17
Locator calls. I have a crow call, it is so loud I want to use hearing protection with it. I have never got a gobble response to it. Then I started listening to the real crows, plenty of them around. The turkeys do not respond to them either. Is this normal?

From: Paul@thefort
28-Apr-17

Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
I agree with the above answers.

1. toms answer but then move off. They might be with hens and not interested in coming to you. 2. no unusual during the day that they only answer once.

3. I use a loud goose call here in Colorado, to make a loud "shock" noise to induce a tom to gobble but most of the time they only gobble back once so make sure to listen. Do not call when a jet is flying over or when the wind is blowing hard as you might miss the return gobble..

4. Never saw them in the grass! Maybe the grass was too wet or maybe there was a lack of insects or good feed to eat. Lots of bug, grubs, berries, buds, etc in the timber.

From: JohnB
28-Apr-17
I wear a vest with several calls because some days one call just doesn't work for the birds. Also tone done your volume of call considerable when close because they have excellent hearing and you don't wont to totally give away your position , you want them to be looking for you. Good luck!

From: writer
28-Apr-17
A shock call it is just that. They're keyed up, and loud noise startles them. I li ke to use an elk diaphragm and coyote howl with it early and late. Tom moving away was probably with hens. Tom gobbling once, may have been coming in silent like a bird that's had his butt kicked by a better tom. Did you see much sign -- gobbler poo, hen poo, dusting areas, tracks? Never a bad trip hunting in the ponderosa country. Congrats on the bird you got.

From: drycreek
28-Apr-17
I've never hunted Merriams, but I can tell you that it's not your calling. A pushbutton call will call in a Tom IF HE WANTS TO COME. A turkey is an individual. I've had them run in, and go the other way. Same calls, same caller. I'm certainly no expert caller, and I've called in my share, but I've also had the same experience as you. As far as a henned-up Toms, I've had better luck imitating the hen than calling to the Tom. I mimic every thing she does, and lots of them will get mad and come to see you, and of course old Tom will be right behind her. And, as said above, try your hand at box calls, slates, and diaphragms. A good turkey calling video would help you there. Good luck !

From: flyingbrass
28-Apr-17
here is the best turkey advice on earth, if you call and he won't come in then go on to another turkey that will respond and come on in. It's simple. Don't waste your time on the hard ones, pick off the stupid ones!

From: Knife2sharp
28-Apr-17
It sounds like there's a relatively low concentration of birds in that area.

From: jims
28-Apr-17
Turkeys are CRAZY birds! I think the most common mistake new gobbler hunters make is to call too loud and too often! Also, if turkeys hear the SAME call time after time they likely think something is up and don't respond. As mentioned above it's good having a variety of calls and using them sparingly. I really like diaphragm calls because my hands are free and I can make a lot of different calls with them.

Once you spend time around turkeys you'll notice they make a variety of calls. Where I hunt they don't make much noise so that's how I am. It's obviously tougher locating them if they are quiet but I look for fresh sign and spend time in those areas. I hear crows and owls calling all the time here in Colo and can't say I've ever heard a shock gobble. ...but it may be worth a try?

This season I only used my call a couple times the entire season...and harvested 5 toms. If toms aren't making noise there usually is a reason. The area I hunt in Colo is loaded with coyotes, bobcats, mtn lions, and bears...turkeys die if they make noise once they fly down out of the roost. The same thing is true where I hunt in Nebraska... there are gobs of coyotes. In fog and wind, predators definitely have an advantage Turkeys have incredible eye-sight and in the fog their eyesight is limited. I've noticed in wind and fog turkeys are generally quiet.

Turkeys are often much like elk. If a bull hears another tom, he may take his group of hens and leave! Spike and raghorn satellite bulls usually spend quite a bit of time following around cows and herd bulls....jakes are fairly similar to satellite bulls and are often more vocal and often are more prone to respond to calls...following groups of hens with mature toms.

With that said, every different area I have turkey hunted is a little different. What's challenging as a hunter...especially when hunting a new species or area is to think like a turkey (or other game you are hunting) and figure out strategies that may work in that particular area. Consider weather conditions, hunting pressure, elevatjon, food sources, predators, time of the strutting/nesting, topography, vegetation, roosting areas, strutting areas, nesting hens, fresh vs old tracks, etc. When ever I see turkeys I keep a tight eye on them and watch their reaction to calls, decoys, and keep track of what exactly they are doing. A lot of hunters spin their wheels because they aren't willing to look at what's going on and figure out strategies that may work! The more time you spend watching videos or actually spend time around turkeys the more you'll learn about their calling and habits. I really think calling is a little over-rated. There are other things that are more important. One thing to remember is if you call to loud and often you will likely spook turkeys!

From: Paul@thefort
29-Apr-17

Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
Paul@thefort's embedded Photo
My experiences is that turkeys like to go where they have been before and are comfortable with their surroundings. This is a good place to kill one, has been my experience. I see turkeys and kill toms in the same place year after year in Colorado as well as in Nebraska. And lets face it, not all toms are "cut from the same cloth" and do exactly the same thing, responding to calls and decoys. Flocked up, henned up, solo toms can and will create a variety of challenges to the hunter through out the season. The more one hunts them, if one learns from each experience, the less the challenges become.

From: jims
29-Apr-17
I definitely agree with Paul's post above. It's fairly easy to pattern turkeys that don't get much hunting pressure and feel comfortable with their surroundings. Unpressured birds likely roost close to the same trees, feed in the same fields, have similar daily strutting grounds, and often return to the same vicinity to roost each evening. The trick is to learn their behavior and try to pattern their daily routine. On highly pressured public ground it is obviously a lot tougher.

Unpressured river bottom rios may have set daily routines and patterns..,however; mountain merriams may be different. Merriams may be tougher because they sometimes have a wider range and often live in vast ponderosa/scrub oak country where they are notorious wanderers. With that said, I've harvested mtn merriam toms within the same 1 mile area the past 4 seasons. The trick is to locate those comfort zones Paul mentioned above and learn their daily routines/behavior.

From: drycreek
29-Apr-17
Jims makes a good point about not-so-vocal turkeys. I hunted the same place in Central Texas for eighteen years. Only 1400 acres and I knew exactly where turkeys liked to be, and I called in and killed a bunch up until the last couple years. We didn't have any coyotes until about five years before I gave up the lease. After coyotes became more noticeable, the turkeys became less vocal. I had read on here about elk becoming less vocal in wolf territory, and I reasoned that the turkeys were doing the same. We still killed turkeys, but with non-vocal birds, it definitely is not as much fun, and it's a little more difficult.

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