Don't Make These Turkey Ground Blind Mistakes

A thorough knowledge of the travel patterns of the turkeys you hunt is a key to successful ground-blind hunting. (Photo by Ron Sinfelt)


Spring turkey hunting can be a tough row to hoe, particularly in highly pressured areas where gobblers have a couple spring hunting seasons under their beards.

The biggest challenge for most is overcoming the turkey's eyesight. I can think of any number of superlatives to describe it, but let's just say it's nothing less than phenomenal and has undoubtedly been the downfall of many hunts.With that said, we need all the edge we can get. One of the best is a portable hunting blind.

BENEFITS OF A BLIND

No matter how well camouflaged from head to toe, no matter how much stealth and tact we put forth, turkeys have an uncanny ability to detect even the slightest movement or noise.


The biggest benefit of hunting from a ground blind is that blinds offer total concealment and are forgiving of human mistakes, especially of the slight movements and noise that often blow a hunt, whether that movement involves drawing a bow, preparing to discharge a shotgun or stretching and adjusting back and leg muscles. While blinds do not completely nullify a gobbler's keen eyesight and hearing, they do greatly level the playing field.

Another advantage of blinds is that spring hunts are not always under clear skies. Blinds provide a degree of protection from the elements, making it possible to hunt more comfortably and longer under less-than-ideal conditions. A blind also gives a hunter maximum leverage to use decoys while hiding the movements made in calling — advantages that can help get birds in close for the best possible shot opportunity.

COMMON MISTAKES

Like any other hunting tool, blinds must be used correctly to optimize their full benefits. One common mistake is blinds are put out too late, or too close to the season opener.


By the season opener my hunting locations have been picked and my blinds set for at least two weeks, if not longer. This calls for considerable pre-season scouting to pattern where birds are roosting, feeding and congregating and the general routes the birds use to access those areas. It pays to keep in mind that before hunting season unmolested flocks roost and congregate in the same general areas and stick to the same general travel and feeding routine each day.

turkey huntingIf you don't push the birds, determining prime blind set-up locations is not overly difficult. It just takes time. And while turkeys are not generally spooked or alarmed by a blind, they can initially be overly cautious about anything new in their territory. Getting the blind set well before the season opener allows birds to acclimate to the blind's presence. It quickly becomes part of the landscape. Just as important, it keeps human disturbances and presence in those areas to a minimum until it is time to hunt. The sooner blinds are put out the better.

Of course, setting blinds well before the season opener depends a great deal on where we hunt. Private land is generally best. In state after state, statistics show private land holds the vast majority of birds and contributes the largest number of birds to the annual spring take. Talking to farmers and orchard owners is a great way to start since the areas these farmers own often draw and hold good numbers of birds due to the variety of foods available.

Ground blinds mask your movements. (Photo by John Geiger)

Also, these landowners generally dislike turkeys and wish them gone. Landowners will therefore sometimes allow access when asked, but keep in mind "the early birds always get the worm" — in this case access to the best properties. Don't wait until the last minute to make introductions and seek permission since other hunters will be doing the same thing.

Public lands such as state forests, wildlife management areas, designated game lands, state parks (where hunting is allowed) and conservation easements under the management of wildlife departments are something else again. Some have rules prohibiting unattended blinds, but check the rules beforehand. Unfortunately, blinds on public land have a better chance of mysteriously disappearing if unattended for any length of time, so pick your spots carefully and check on them periodically with a set of binoculars.

Another common mistake is not investing in a blind large enough to accommodate your hunting style. Bowhunters and crossbow users in particular need sufficient room to maneuver their arms of choice plus have room enough for their packs and perhaps a comfortable seat. And shotgun hunters need almost as much room.

Master These Turkey Calls

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