3Rivers Archery Supply
Smart Turkeys?
Turkey
Contributors to this thread:
Dino 05-May-17
Ermine 05-May-17
writer 05-May-17
Glunt@work 05-May-17
Ermine 05-May-17
jims 06-May-17
Scooby-doo 06-May-17
Ucsdryder 06-May-17
Ziek 06-May-17
jims 06-May-17
Glunt@work 06-May-17
KWhiteABowhunter 06-May-17
Ermine 06-May-17
drycreek 06-May-17
Zim1 06-May-17
jims 06-May-17
writer 07-May-17
Timbrhuntr 07-May-17
jims 07-May-17
writer 07-May-17
Ziek 07-May-17
From: Dino
05-May-17
I am fairly new to turkey hunting. Maybe not to new to trying, but new to actually finally finding an area that has birds...we have to wait a LONG time in Alberta to get drawn. I have been traveling out of country to hunt turkeys, and I have been hitting one area of farmland pretty hard. There are lots of birds, but many of them have seen my decoys and heard my calls, they also get a little shy of the blind. 2 big Toms in particular are very keen and I 'd sure like for either my son or I to get him! Any similar experiences? Outside of finding a new spot, advice? What's the secret to cracking this turkey code?

From: Ermine
05-May-17

Ermine's embedded Photo
Ermine's embedded Photo
That's the fun of turkey hunting!

Throw them for a loop! Try a heads up decoy

From: writer
05-May-17
Pattern them, like you would deer, if possible. Turkeys are a lot easier to call when you're already sitting where they want to go. ...and I don't think turkeys are very smart, but they can be darned wary...but, the next day they may be dumb as a post. See if you can find an experienced hunter to go with you, as a tag along. Most are willing to go, just for the fun of calling in a bird for someone else. Have fun, keep after them.

From: Glunt@work
05-May-17
They are not smart, just great eyesight and scared of anything that resembles something that might eat them. They can get call/blind shy but as stated above 10 minutes after you are convinced your decoys and blinds are ruining everything, one might come charging in and spend a couple minutes beating up the decoy.

From: Ermine
05-May-17
Watch "my life as a wild turkey" and you might change your mind on turkeys not being "smart"

From: jims
06-May-17
Toms that have been hunted hard are a lot tougher than a lot of guys tend to give them credit for! If they are leery of a blind try without a blind. If they don't pay attention to decoys it may be because toms are "henned" up or they like to see movement of decoys similar to live birds. One of the biggest mistakes new turkey hunters make is they call way too much and not know what calls to use. It's good to call less and change up the few calls you make. A lot of turkeys use similar routines from 1 day to the next. If you can figure out their routine and intercept them that will help a lot. If you are on a large property this obviously gives you a lot more freedom than a tiny parcel where they may head to the neighbors. If you are hunting private you may want to try a heads up or similar decoy...just make sure it's safe! My biggest word of advice is to watch the turkeys and be willing to change things up depending upon their reaction.

From: Scooby-doo
06-May-17
I agree with writer, turkeys are dumb as a box of rocks, but they have excellent eyesight and can get spooky real easy if they catch movement. Scooby

From: Ucsdryder
06-May-17
If you think a turkey is smart watch one try to get across a hog wire fence...or beat the crap out of a bumper as they "fight" their reflection!

From: Ziek
06-May-17

Ziek's embedded Photo
This guy tried for about 10 minutes.
Ziek's embedded Photo
This guy tried for about 10 minutes.
Ziek's embedded Photo
This guy wore himself out for about an hour!
Ziek's embedded Photo
This guy wore himself out for about an hour!
...or try to breed a decoy.

From: jims
06-May-17
Try hunting turkeys spot and stalk without the aid of any decoys or calls on heavily hunted public land and tell me turkeys are as dumb as a rock! Even tougher try spot and stalking a group of 30 turkeys in open country when toms are henned up! They may not be intelligent like humans but they certainly have some of the keenest eyes of just about any wild critter. The nice thing about turkeys is you don't have to worry about their sense of smell like big game species....just their eyes and ears. Take away a whitetail or elks sense of smell and they would be a lot easier to hunt!

From: Glunt@work
06-May-17
"My Life as a Turkey" is a pretty cool documentary. Pretty amazing how much of a Turkey's behavior is hard coded.

06-May-17
After bowhunting my second spring gobbler season, I'm convinced that some turkeys are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. I had a monster eastern come in to my decoys... AFTER sending two jakes in first. I kid you not. His whole behavior was different. Wary is an understatement. The only one present dumb as a rock after the jakes left was me. I muffed the shot, my arrow making quite a ruckus barreling through the brush behind him, and he looked straight at ME in the blind and cooly left. I am confident that he won't be going anywhere near a blind or a decoy for the rest of the season. He didn't get that big being dumb. My take is that we probably don't have many run-ins with the really smart ones.

From: Ermine
06-May-17
private land birds don't count in smart vs dumb. :)

Yea I hunted an old weary bird in the mtns of Colorado. He would always hang back a couple hundred yards and send his two hens in to check it out while he stayed back. They would come in check it out and leave.

He was very smart

From: drycreek
06-May-17
Although I've only witnessed it myself in person once, I've heard that some of them will play dead until you start to ham it up for the camera, and then they are outa there ! :-)

From: Zim1
06-May-17
Dino, I exclusively hunt public. At a few remote lightly pressured southern Illinois properties I hunt, I can stick my blind anywhere with no cover, throw a couple decoys up, and get anything to come in. However, at the late season Wisconsin public I hunt that is impossible. The mature toms will peg my blind immediately from 100+ yards, and blow out. And they avoid my decoys by about 50+ yards. This is very predictable year after year. My success in Wisconsin changed when I left both the decoys and blind home, and just set up in tall grass on their favorite travel lanes, which I identified from hunting there many years. There's no question toms in some environments can be conditioned to avoid dekes & blinds. In order to have more setup options, I just ordered a mirror surfaced Ghost Blind, which I expect will be ideal for this property. Read many positive reviews. The other thing you could try stalking behind one of the turkey fan decoys made, if you are on tightly controlled private land only.

From: jims
06-May-17
To add to my post above, if turkeys had noses like a whitetail....do you think you would consider them dumb as rocks? It's kindof a relief when hunting turkeys that you really don't have to keep the wind direction in mind. They really only have their great eye-sight and ears (somewhat) to keep in consideration so are at a disadvantage compared to big game from the get-go.

From: writer
07-May-17
Yes, they'd still be dumb as rocks, but extra wary. How many "smart" animals run to hog wire fence, and keep trying to push their body through that 6" hole rather than stepping or flying over the fence? Try to breed a plastic fake for an hour? Run in circles around a dead cat, even with traffic backing up? When I started hunting/writing about them in the early 80s, I swore they were feathered Einsteins. I've learned a lot since then, though. Still say you need to broaden your horizons a bit, Jims, and get off the prairies and head further east to traditional turkey hunting habitat. You'd learn a lot, and really appreciate the success even more than what you're getting out west. Back when I was more serious, it was fun to do Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska or South Dakota every spring.

From: Timbrhuntr
07-May-17
Try to breed a plastic fake for an hour? Hmmm I believe I have seen video of whitetail bucks doing the same thing although not for an hour ! And I have freed a couple deer caught in fences ! I don't know if turkeys are smarter or dumber than other animals but how many of those other animals get up every morning and yell hey I'm right here now come and see if you can kill me !! Also they don't just go nocturnal on you ! I have been bow hunting a specific tom on a 40 acre parcel for 3 years. He won't go to decoys and only gobbles on the limb. I have called him in several times and he will come to 60 or so yards where he knows the hen can hear his constant drumming and wait. You can call, flash tail fans knock yourself out he won't budge until that hen comes to him if not he will lose interest and walk off ! Stupid bird ;)

From: jims
07-May-17
I guess it's a matter of what you consider stupid or dumb as a rock! Obviously town, farm, and feedlot turkeys are an entirely different bird than those that spend their entire lives in wild country or on heavily hunted public land. I live below Estes Park where elk wander around town.,,and are dumb as a rock! Someone left a shop door open downtown earlier this spring and a bull wandered in. There are always bulls that get antlers caught in Christmas lights and do pretty crazy and stupid stunts. Are elk stupid?

I guess what I'm saying is a turkey's eyesight is as keen as any wild animal. Wary toms hunted on public land certainly do well to survive predators (including humans) even though they lack the nose and ears of a whitetail!

Come try heavily hunted mtn merriams in rough, isolated country with trees where they hardly make a peep or get eaten....and you'll see what I'm talking about! I hunt Nebraska every year where birds are fairly quiet and a chore to find when it's windy (which is around 90% of the time) . They are certainly a lot smarter than a rock where I hunt in Nebraska...and it's lightly hunted private land. Writer, you are right, it would be exciting to branch out and try turkey hunting across the country! If anyone is ever looking for a hunting partner send me a pm!

From: writer
07-May-17
I have, Jims, in NM, WY, SD, CO and hunted quite a few places on private and public in NE. I've been around a bit, for quite a while, when it comes to turkeys. I've been blessed to have hunted with many of the best, out west and back east, - Eye, Keck, Blanton, Waddell, Salter, Haas, Harris, Drury, Pearcy, 2 Pitmans...so that's helped a lot. Still, generally, no comparison to the same I've hunted in in MO, AL, FL, MS, AR,.... Guys from those states always seem to have a much easier time in the Rockies or Black Hills than when guys from out west head east. There are some exceptions. I'm pretty sure that Hunt, Slayer and Joe would just kill turkeys no matter where they're at, based on what I've read on here and personal correspondence. Any sub-species can whupp your butt on certain days, and I've had to shoot Alabama easterns and Osceola's in self defense on rare occasions. Their balls are 10X bigger than their brains...so how smart can they be? :-) I've heard the..."our birds don't gobble because of the coyotes, bobcats, bears, mountain lions, poachers...." in a lot of states. Have a great summer, and start branching out. It's obvious how much you love turkey hunting, might as well grab as much as you can.

From: Ziek
07-May-17

Ziek's embedded Photo
Ziek's embedded Photo
Ziek's embedded Photo
Last photo I took before he headed down to the roost.
Ziek's embedded Photo
Last photo I took before he headed down to the roost.
"Smart" implies reasoning ability.

"...AFTER sending two jakes in first." Really? You actually think they had a parley up there, or the tom ordered his subordinates the point position?

Turkeys are pretty dumb, but incredibly wary. They avoid ANYTHING they recognize or associate with danger. If they live long enough to have scary situations (older toms) those situations imprint, and they avoid them. If your blind looked like a camaro, they would ignore it. Just like in heavily hunted areas, they avoid pick up trucks as soon as they see one. Too often they disgorge people shooting shotguns, if the hunters even bother to get out first.

As to the long breeding attempt. I just checked my photos of that evening. First started at 6:07. He gave up and headed to the roost at 7:31. He would take short breaks where he just stood there panting, or challenged the jake decoy. Then try again. He was within 10 yards of our blind where both my wife and I were taking photos and video, and not even being that quiet at times. There were several other birds in the meadow with him at times. We had already each killed a bird in the previous couple of days out of that blind, and spent another afternoon just enjoying the show.

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