Turkey Hunting: Close and Comfortable

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There are certain hunters who are simply poisonous on turkeys.  It is almost as if their presence in the spring woods creates a certainty that as long as their shells are not loaded with salt, they will leave with a turkey over their shoulder.

Prying the secret to the success from these hunters is borderline impossible.  It almost requires interrogation or a stiff scotch drink.  The last thing they want is to clone others like them and inherently have fewer turkeys to their disposal. While some are generous in their advice, the majority are as tight-lipped as the Hoover Dam.
The summer months have always been those in which I learn from accomplished hunters.  They are as addicted to the sport as am I, and enjoy talking to those that share in their affliction.  It serves as a way for them to continue to live out the season that comes and goes all too quickly.
There are three names that come to mind when I think of hunters that I would take to the woods with me if I had to kill a turkey for a million dollars.  While I will not reveal their names to protect their identity, I will pass on their secret to success.  The answer to the question "Why are you so deadly" was identical-getting dangerously close to roosted turkeys.
I will admit it, when I approach a roosted turkey, I am a nervous wreck.  Every cracking limb sends my heart into overdrive, and every flushing tweety bird sinks my enthusiasm before I can collect my thoughts.  I tend to err on the side of caution, especially early in the year, but according to my sources, you simply have to break that mentality.
All of the three hunters said they prefer to get within sixty yards of a roosted turkey, and that's sometimes too far for them.  They even suggested slipping in until you can see the bird on the roost.  While this may seem extreme, their success validates their theory.

Getting close essentially reduces the range in which a turkey can move on you when he pitches down.  His margin of error becomes much smaller.  A wrong move and he is headed for the grease.
Do not think that getting close to turkeys is simply a mindset.  It requires stealth and woodsmanship.  You must slip through the woods as if you are a vapor, making sure you do not step on limbs or make noise.
Using the terrain and cover is also crucial.  In flat terrain, you have to be more careful when getting in tight with turkeys.  In rolling terrain, you can use the topography to shield your movement and "pop up" when you are close enough.
Additionally, certain factors need to be considered when deciding whether to push the envelope.  Obviously, it is much easier to get close to roosted turkeys later in the season as the trees begin to green up.  Early in the season, "getting close" may be 150 yards, and setting up that close may require you roosting that bird the evening before and making a pre-dawn approach.  Also, if the leaves are dry, you may not be able to get as close.  All of the sources agreed that the morning after a rain is an optimal time to get tight with roosted turkeys.
Even though the tactic of getting close was unanimous, the mode of attack when set up varied.  One said he did not make a sound until the bird pitched down, one said he called to the roosted bird just like any other turkey, and one said he based whether to call or not based on which way the turkey was facing on the tree.  If the turkey is facing away, his rule of thumb was to call, and if facing his direction, to remain quiet.  All agreed that most of the time, turkeys preferred to pitch away from the roost then approach once on the ground.
An anonymous poet once said that close only counts in horseshoes.  Knowing the success these warriors of the spring have by getting close, it appears close counts in turkey hunting as well.  Now that I know the secret, is it turkey season yet?
Wild Turkey Report Staff
Wild Turkey Report is the internet's new destination for information on the sport of turkey hunting. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildturkeyreport and on Twitter @wildturkeyreprt!
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