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Question on Reducing Pressure on Turkeys
Contributors to this thread:
Candor 06-Feb-20
longbeard 06-Feb-20
Brotsky 07-Feb-20
Jims 07-Feb-20
DanaC 07-Feb-20
From: Candor
Over the years (that sounds older than I feel...) I have approached turkey hunting in different ways. I really do not desire to just kill a turkey. I want to kill him when he is coming in, hammering and aggressive. So, setting up a blind and waiting for hours is not my style of hunting, though it certainly is a more effective way of hunting.

HOWEVER, I know for a fact that the birds in my area stay more vocal and responsive if I pressure them less (duh). I know that pressuring them less is accomplished by moving less. Especially early in the year when there are more days to hunt. The closer to the end of the season I get the more active I am throughout the property. Early in the season I try to hunt close to public roads where I am not bopping around spooking unforeseen birds. Which I think happens to most people much more than we are generally aware.

All that to say, I have a good friend that is a great turkey hunter. He suggested that when I want to walk around in higher visibility areas that I don a bright jacket and do as much as I possibly can to not resemble a predator. Possibly whistling and making a lot of noise.

I have not pursued this approach previously. It might look like me walking into the middle of the property in the dark and hunting over a small area and then putting on an orange jacket to walk part way out. Remove jacket, hunt. Put jacket back on and walk back to truck. Or some semblance of that. What I am sure I cannot do is try to work in on an active bird without topography between us wearing bright clothes.

Any thoughts on this lunacy?

From: longbeard
Candor your hunting style of choice is my choice also. Turkeys are some much fun to hunt when you are free to move around.

Anyway, when you hunt one property over and over throughout the season, yes, there is only one thing that will happen to the turkeys: They will feel the pressure!

There are different levels of affect that hunting pressure will have on them. Some of the “experts” differ in opinion on how hunting pressure will affect the local flock. Some are adamant with the thought that a bird will go silent because he’s been spooked by you a couple of times moving around on the property. I’m more inclined to agree with those that believe turkeys will gobble as much as they need to, to satisfy their natural instinct to get with the hens. I’ve seen many turkeys change their habits in response to hunting pressure over the length of a season, but from what I’ve observed, gobbling isn’t usually a change they make. At least it’s not at the top of the list. It’s very common for them to become less visible out feeding or strutting in the open fields, for example, in response to pressure. However, gobbling is a fickle activity and could be misunderstood by some. Gobbling activity is something that changes frequently throughout the spring season, it spikes and then drops off and then spikes again. This is mostly in response to where the local flock is in its breeding cycle. I say local because the birds could be screaming today on this farm and 5 miles down the road, same day, not a peep. It’s all about the hens, availability and receptiveness.

I hope this helps you understand a little better but these are all just my observations and my opinions from a long career in the turkey woods. My advice to you; if your worried about pressuring the turkeys in one spot to much, maybe try to get more permissions and rotate where you hunt.

From: Brotsky
Turkeys aren’t dumb or smart, they literally have a pea sized brain that only cares about eating, reproduction, and staying alive. That latter of the three is what we assume makes them “smart” or “dumb”: pressured turkeys with negative experiences get “smart”. Turkeys with little to no pressure that eat out of a ranchers feedlot everyday get “dumb”. Turkeys within just a few miles of each other can be polar opposites based upon what their experiences are in staying alive. That said, even the smartest longbeard can be dumb as a bag of hammers on a given day if he is feeling amorous. Your best bet as mentioned above is to find more areas to hunt. The only way to pressure them less is to make them feel like they are being hunted less and have an easier time of “staying alive”. I will also add that I have had many, many birds come in gobbling their heads off, aggressive, attacking decoys, etc while blind hunting travel routes and strutting zones. One thing I’ve learned about turkeys from many years hunting them is don’t overthink it. They aren’t that smart. If he isn’t in the mood today he might be tomorrow. Go find another one. Good luck!

From: Jims
Turkeys are fairly similar to elk. They do not like humans in locations where they are hunted! Obviously elk in RMNP and Estes or feed lot/farm-yard turkeys are a whole different animal! All the turkeys I've spent time around when pressured move or change their behavior. If pressured enough they will move to different roosting trees, feeding areas, strutting grounds, etc.

In regard to gobbling....turkeys where I hunt may make a little noise in the trees but once they are on the ground....the word is MUMM! They find out that if they make noise they get eaten by coyotes, bear, mtn lions, and bobcats. I've found this same thing true if turkeys are pressured by hunters....they become quiet in a hurry when something doesn't look or sound right!

Bright orange or camo hunters where I spend time both will spook the heck out of turkeys equally. They know that humans are "evil" and they may not live another day if they hang around! Dumb turkeys where I spend time die from predators....including "human" predators!

From: DanaC
I know places here in central Mass. where you can watch them strut on front lawns. Not so easy in the woods!

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