I have hunted turkeys each spring for 15 years, and although I’ve had a high success rate, it is more due to the quantity of birds in the area than my hunting prowess. As I became more experienced, I recognized that the ambush setup was critical to success.
Each year I begin by going into turkey territory about three weeks prior to the season. My goal is to locate the roosting areas and pattern the birds’ habits after they come off the roosts. There is such a tremendous amount of wildlife movement in early spring, and I find that after being cooped up all winter, this renewal of life is exhilarating. I have had many wonderful wildlife experiences during these forays, and my camcorder has provided a record I’ll always cherish.
Turkeys aren’t rigid creatures of habit, so habitat dictates movements to feeding and breeding areas. There always seem to be two or three routes available when the birds come off the roost, but they will take one of these more consistently than the others. Weather can be a factor in the birds’ movements as well. High wind, rain or snow will cause the birds to vary the time they come off the roost and the direction in which they travel. In each case, an ambush setup must be pre-located, which will offer the opportunity to bag this most wily of birds.
In the ideal ambush location, the birds will pass close enough to you when they’re leaving the roost to be called in to your decoys, even when the tom has hens alongside. The spot you choose to sit in should provide good long-range vision to both sides as well as in front, with enough cover to allow you to bring up your weapon well in advance of the birds coming into range. Avoid a location where the birds can surprise you from the rear. My favorite spots have heavy brush behind my position, and the turkeys can’t get through the tangle.
Since you may be in this location for several hours, comfort is important. A cushion to sit on helps greatly. Lean against a large tree, and make sure you can move your legs to keep circulation going. Over the years, I have developed three locations that fit this criteria, and I’ve been very successful in all three spots. I have used hen decoys or a combination of hen and jake decoys, and have even hunted with no decoys at all. I find the combination to be most effective. Developing your calling skills is also critical. My favorite is the plain ol’ box call.
Get out early in spring, do your field work (or rather, “woods work”), and find good locations where you can set up to ambush the wily turkey.
From—From the Field: Member Tips and Insights