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Talking Turkey

Updated: May 3, 2018

Have you ever met the guy who said’ “if you’ve killed one turkey then you’ve killed them all.” Well, I hate to admit this, but I’ve been that guy a time or two. But as I write this blog, I’m on the eve of my turkey season here in WI and I’m excited. Although I will be carrying my trusty shotgun and a valid tag in my pocket, that’s not why I’m excited. In the morning I will be hunting with a good friend that hasn’t killed many turkeys, and I’m excited for him to experience all the things I love about run and gun turkey hunting. I’ve been hunting gobblers here in my home state since the days of having to travel to the southern half of the state, where the birds were first introduced, and the seasons were only 5 days long. Everyone remember the days when you had to be done at 5pm? Well I do. A lot has changed since those days, but turkey killing tactics have remained the same since man learned how to sharpen a stick or use a club. With all the fancy gadgets, decoys, calls and even an umbrella made to look like a turkey fan, solid tactics remain the same. I’m a run and gun turkey hunter, and guide in my free time, calling and killing several birds a year here in WI. I use some very basic tactics to get it done each season.

Roosted ain’t roasted, but it gets you close.

I‘m like every other turkey hunter out there, I love to hear the toms hammering off the roost, but we all know that doesn’t guarantee a kill in the morning. In my experience, if you can get a tom to respond off the roost, to you and not a live hen, he will eventually make his way back to you if you’re patient. Give that tom time to strut it up and show off for the hens that he can see. When they leave and you are still there, he WILL come check you out.

Cutting off the boss.

Ever call to a hammering tom and all of a sudden you find yourself in a shouting match with an angry hen? This is my favorite scenario. When a boss hen gets angry and starts a loud raspy yelp session, mimic her call and add a bit of grit to your calling. Imagine a late night shouting match with your drunk buddy downtown in a college bar. You just wanted to show off and be heard right? Well, so does she and so should you! This calling match will bring her into your dekes and will drive a tom nuts. He generally won’t come running in, but rather struts his way into your setup.

Patience young grasshopper.

Years ago, when my dad first started turkey hunting and after I had a few kills under my belt, I told my dad patience kills turkeys. That statement was true then and he has proved it several times since. If you get a tom to answer you a few times, but he goes silent on you, get ready and stay patient. Less calling is more. Stay quiet and wait him out for 10-15 minutes before you call again. You better have that gun on your knee and not in your lap when you strike up the call after waiting, because chances are he will be right there.

Use the terrain to your advantage.

Where I live here in west central WI, there are deep ravines and large ridge tops. If the toms are hammering up on the ridge tops, and stay up there most of the day, use the natural draws to get in close and seal the deal. Same goes for the mid-day traveler. My favorite run and gun scenario includes an overcast day and a mid-day traveler. The tom that walks the edges of a field, road/trail or ridge top from 10:00am to 2:00pm is the mid-day traveler and he usually pops off a gobble every few minutes hoping for a responding hen. Get out in front of that bird and purr/scratch in the leaves like a feeding hen and you’ll be successful.

Note: I’ve never NOT killed a hammering tom in the afternoon. If you can get a tom that’s gobbling and responding, chances are you’ll kill him too.

These are a few of my turkey hunting tactics I’ve used over the years to be successful and I’ll be using them in the morning. Share your favorite tactic, story or experience and god willing I will have a successful update to post over the course of my season.

Good luck…..Mike

Mike was able to use these tactics to help Ryan harvest this four bearded tom last season.

5/2/2018 Update:

Well our season was pretty short lived, but very eventful. Ryan and I were able to harvest two birds right away using three of the tactics I discussed above. First, a combination of roosted ain't roasted and paitence. Ryan's bird answered us off the roost, but needed time and patience (and a bit of coaxing) before working in to about ten yards. My bird was a perfect execution of using terrain to get ahead of the mid-day traveler and call him in. I asked Ryan to write about his turkey hunting experiences over the past two years, so i will leave the story telling to him. Stay tuned.


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