|Time Proven Tactics for Toms|
|Time Proven Tactics for Toms|
Growing up on a farm, we had two turkeys, a tom and a hen. They were not the tame, white kind but genuine, eastern wild turkeys. A state forestry agent found an abandoned nest and incubated the eggs. My Dad knew him well, because in addition to being a farmer, my father was also a math teacher, and this agent was one of his former students.
The forestry agent gave us a tom and a hen. I gained much wild turkey wisdom from these two birds. Namely, wild animals don’t make good pets. The hen was a shy, docile bird who minded her own business and roamed the perimeter of our property seeking insects and seed heads. The gobbler, however, was ready to flog the instant you turned your back on him.
You’ve never lived the life of high adventure till you’ve been flogged by a gobbler. I compare it to accidentally backing into a large, industrial fan with spurs. Before you realize it, you’ve received a flurry of slaps, spanks and scratches while the tom seems to be suspended in mid-air delivering his fury.
My mother never left the protection of the house to get firewood from the woodpile without a fire poker in her hand. Once, the gobbler tried to ambush her from behind a shrub, and she caught him in the throat with a wild swing of the fire tong. He settled down for about a week, but boredom overtook him a short time after that. Since he had only one hen, that meant he had plenty of time on his hands to plan devilment.
We had walked about 20 paces from the barn when I heard the awful foop, foop, foop of the tom’s wings as he launched his assault. The old bird came down on my cousin’s head and shoulders with a flurry of wings, feet and beak. It looked like a helicopter in process of crashing on my comrade’s head. After a treatment of rubbing alcohol and iodine, my cousin would live to haul hay another day. However, the gobbler went missing a short while after that incident.
Having that old tom and his hen on the farm allowed me to learn the language of turkey talk, their breeding, nesting and roosting habits, as well as their preferred foods. Edward, on the other hand, learned to never turn his back on a cantankerous tom.
Every spring finds me scouting and setting up on wary old toms, and every time a gobbler answers my calls and begins strutting, drumming and working his way towards my hidden calling position, my adrenaline and pulse begins to rise as I ease the shotgun into position. If you are a novice when it comes to turkey hunting, there are a few time proven tactics that will have you shouldering a gobbler on the way out of the woods this spring.
Know where to look
Many farms are made up of cleared bottomland and cleared mountaintops with forested areas in between. This creates ideal habitat and holding areas for wild turkeys. The forested areas near cleared hilltop pastures make ideal roosting sites and the surrounding pastures provide a wealth of food sources in the form of green matter and insects. In addition, stands of pine trees serve as ideal roosting sites and great places to hunt for gobblers.
Gain from the Rain
One tactic I use for locating flocks of turkeys in pastureland is to wait for a light rain to do my scouting. During a light rain, turkeys will often leave the seclusion of the woods and head into open grasslands or pastures. Turkeys do this because the rain hitting the leaves in the woods prevents them from hearing approaching predators.
Using a quality pair of binoculars, I’ll scan the pasture edges and tree lines during a rain to spot any turkeys feeding out in the open. Areas that were planted in food plots during the winter, fields where millet or sorghum were planted, livestock pastureland, logging roads, or even the field edges in row crop operations serve as productive scouting sites for gobblers.
If you are hunting an area for the first time and have had no opportunities for preseason scouting, your best bet is to situate yourself on top of the highest ridge while waiting for a tom to gobble or while delivering your calls. This is because gobblers rarely come downhill to calling. Most times, gobblers are more likely to approach the hunter when he is on the same level or higher ground.
You may not always have the luxury of setting up a blind in advance, but any shoulder width tree, brush pile, blown down tree, or stump can provide concealment while you call that tom. Keep a set of pruning shears in your pocket, and you can make a quick blind using short sapling limbs pushed into the ground around your calling position.
John Wayne was once asked to give his advice on successful acting. He responded with, "Talk low, talk slow and don’t talk too much." The same advice holds true when calling gobblers. Often, a few soft yelps and purrs are all that is needed to get a gobbler to respond and head in your direction. For gobblers, call low, call slow and don’t call too much.
With time proven tactics and a little luck, you’ll be ready when that springtime sun begins peeking through the tree line
John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.