March 12, 2018
Ground blind turkey hunting this spring is a great way to take your tom this season. These tips should help.
Typically, spring turkey hunting is a run-and-gun affair, where hunters locate lusty toms by getting them to gobble by using seductive hen calls and then closing the gap while yelping, clucking and purring to keep the longbeard interested.
It may come as a surprise to modern-day hunters that, a mere 40 years ago, the most common turkey-hunting technique was to sit on a ridge or field edge and call sporadically until a curious gobbler showed up. No running, no gunning, just sitting and calling — all morning or all day (where legal) if necessary.
Old-fashioned tactics still work on spring turkeys. Hunters who are unable or unwilling to run all over the woods in search of a tom still can enjoy a successful hunt. All it takes is a little bit of turkey knowledge and a great deal of patience — a simple combination that is surprisingly rare among hunters of any ilk. Most hunters can identify, locate and call turkeys with some level of expertise, but how many can sit still for hours on end with nothing to go on but faith, determination and perseverance?
GROUND BLIND PHILOSOPHY
Why hunt turkeys from a ground blind? The answer is simple enough: It's easy! Today's blinds are large, comfortable and well-designed to allow the hunter to see and shoot from just about any position. All the hunter has to do is sit inside in a comfortable chair, enjoy a cup of coffee or sandwich without being seen and, every 30 minutes or so, offer a few yelps, clucks or purrs to keep distant gobblers interested. Blind hunters are safe from the elements and able to move about freely without being seen. As the song says, the waiting is the hardest part, but experienced hunters know that if you sit tight and wait long enough you'll get your bird.
More Spring Turkey Hunting Tips
STRATEGIC BLIND LOCATIONS
As is the case with all hunting pursuits, pre-season scouting is the key to a successful blind hunt. Generally, blinds should be set up on hardwood ridge tops where turkeys are known to roost or feed; at field edges or food plots where flocks of turkeys have been seen feeding, entering or exiting the field; or on high ground in open fields within 100 yards of woodlots, hedgerows or other natural "funnels" where turkeys have been observed.
It's not necessary to establish a blind site precisely where birds have been seen because they will respond to calls and decoys. Distant birds can ultimately be lured to the blind site across even the largest of fields or pastures. They may take their sweet time coming in but that is simply the nature of the beast. Turkeys are extremely alert, suspicious, reactive birds, trusting nothing and allowing no mistakes.
A patient hunter who is completely concealed within a blind can easily outlast them — if he can take the pressure of sitting still for hours on end after the first birds have been sighted. Some hunts will end quickly but most will not so be prepared to sit, sit, sit until the dominant tom decides to investigate.
Turkeys, like deer, know their territories intimately, and so it's in the hunter's best interest to have his blind set up well before he plans to hunt the area. A week should give the birds all the lead time they need to get used to the sudden intrusion of a newly established blind. It is possible to set up a blind the day of a hunt if plenty of camouflaging brush and foliage is available. Give the birds time to get used to your setup. If necessary, place several blinds in various places around the property that you plan to hunt so you can cover all the bases without disturbing the birds.
THE BASIC BLIND SETUP
Most modern pop-up blinds have windows on all four sides, but it makes sense to have the front of the blind facing the most anticipated direction of turkey arrival. Turkeys may show up at any time from any direction so it's best to sit facing the front of the blind while leaving other options open should the birds appear where you least expect them. It will happen. Simply (and quickly) turn your chair to face the incoming birds, make the necessary window adjustments and then sit tight until the flock arrives.
Decoys can be a help in attracting suspicious flocks, but in most cases the birds are attracted to the sound of the calling. Even without decoys the birds will find the blind's location and circle it several times as they search for the "lonely hen" that's been calling to them all morning. The most aggressive toms will walk right up to a blind and attempt to look inside, at which point the sound of gunfire should already have been heard.
If the morning sun becomes a problem it's an easy matter to adjust the window screening or, if necessary, simply turn the blind as needed to keep the bright light from obscuring incoming birds. Turkeys that decide to investigate a blind setup will linger for several minutes and walk around the area at close range, so even on the brightest of mornings there will be an opportunity for a shot. Just sit tight, gun up and be ready; you'll get your chance.
Different Types of Turkey Calls
MAINTAIN YOUR ENTHUSIASM
The most exciting action on most turkey hunts takes place at sunrise, when the woods are alive with hen calls, gobbles and the sound of birds flying down off their roosts for the day. Many hunts end early, but just as many sunrise hunts are foiled by live, jealous hens that lure the tom away for the morning. That is where a hunter must dredge up every ounce of patience he possesses. Don't think for a minute that the gobbler has forgotten about that pleading hen he heard at daybreak. He'll be busy servicing live hens for several hours but at some point between 10 a.m. and noon he'll come back, often silently, to take care of that overlooked hen.
In fact, many toms may be roaming the woods in search of hens and most of them will stop gobbling after sunrise. They still will be looking for mates but without all the fanfare, which is good news for the blind hunter. Sit tight, relax, have some coffee or a snack and wait it out. Call occasionally (every 30 minutes or so is plenty) to let any wandering gobbler know you are in the area, and continue to wait — and watch. Many times, a tom will show up unannounced, appearing among the decoys without warning or roaming around the blind in search of that mystery hen that he can hear but can't see.
Remain inside the blind all day (or as the law allows) and give the birds all the benefit of the time allowed. Some toms may not show up until just before noon (when hunting ends in some states) or he may not show up until just before the flock heads to high ground to roost.
There is no doubt that successful ground blind turkey hunting requires perseverance and a great deal of determination. Feel free to run and gun if you can't sit still, but in the long run it is all but certain that the patient ground blind hunter will rule the day.