January 30, 2018
While knowing how to call is important, to be truly successful hunters need to understand how to set up for spring turkey hunting.
One of the most overlooked aspects of successful spring turkey hunting is the set-up. Position is often the most important key to affording a hunter the best opportunity to harvest a bird.
Concealment is extremely important when choosing a set-up. Use available branches, leaves and bushes, but always ensure you have visibility. It is imperative that you are hidden but can see to the effective limits of your shotgun.
Also, safety must be a consideration by setting up against a tree wider than your back, which provides protection in the event someone makes a drastic mistake. You should additionally place decoys out of line of your set-up to ensure that you're not in the line of fire.
GOBBLER ON THE ROOST
Once you have a gobbler answering at daybreak, one of the oldest rules in the book is to slip in as close as possible and engage the gobbler. The further you set up from a gobbler on the roost, the more mishaps can occur. Two factors to consider when trying to work a gobbler from extended distances is that other hunters can come in between you and your quarry. It gives hens time and space to intervene as well. Set up tight on the gobbler on the roost but be very careful not to spook him. If you have worked the gobbler previous hunts, he may be following some type of pattern after he flies down. Set up and begin your conversation where he is flying down and beginning his morning routine.
SETTING UP IN A HURRY
As exciting as "running and gunning" can be, it often creates an unsuccessful scenario as excitement blocks productive thought processes. As you're easing along trying to elicit a response from a gobbler, always be cognizant of a possible set-up before uttering a sound. Key on cover but ensure that it provides visibility. Do your best to quickly identify terrain features and avoid setups that could hinder the gobbler's route to your location. Position yourself in his path of least resistance. Providing easy access to your set-up makes calling him into gun range a more reasonable prospect.
FOLLOWING THE LEADER
If you have been pursuing a mouthy gobbler that is constantly moving away, it's time to cease all hen calling and position yourself in front of the gobbler's path. Utilize locator calls, such as a crow or hawk, to pinpoint the tom's position as you circle around. Attempt to course his movement and direction. Be sure to take note if he is traveling the perimeter of a pond, pasture or ridge. Making an attempt to plot his course will help you choose a setup that could have the gobbler wander by in range.
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LESS VOCAL TURKEYS
Once the season starts winding down and turkeys become less vocal, it is time to adjust tactics. At this point it is imperative to set up in places where turkeys are frequenting, such as logging roads and pasture edges.
Identify hen feeding areas. If you can locate concentrations of hens, there is a strong possibility that there will be gobblers in the area. Set up by utilizing limbs, brush and vegetation to create a blind. Ensure that the greenery is placed beyond the length of the shotgun and make sure it is not too high, hindering vision or ability to move.
Then, settle in for the long haul, as patience in this scenario will often prevail. Call softly, using purrs and clucks, with only the occasional soft yelp, while scratching the leaves to simulate a feeding hen.
Always be mindful about setting up where a gobbler wants to go. This will make calling him into gun range much easier. Harvesting gobblers year in and out is a daunting task, but putting yourself in key positions will improve your odds of filling your tags this spring.