Turkey Hunting: Looking for Love

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We all dream of those early morning hunts in which the turkeys read the script.  The morning silence is broken by countless gobbling turkeys, and we have to flip a coin to decide which turkey we go to.  Soon after setting up on our chosen customer, we feel the gobblers’ momentum shift our way and strain our eyes for the first glimpse of a jet black figure crowned with a glowing red and blue head.  We don’t have to wait long, and a flick of the safety is soon followed by a roar and a fist pump.  We are able to stop by the morning coffee shop before heading to work, and all is right with the world, for that day at least.

While the early morning hunt is the most common, many times we find ourselves amidst a world of silence and thus must search the countryside for a turkey-any turkey- to call our own.  Prospecting for gobblers can be feast or famine, and more often times than not we return to the truck with nothing to show for our vigor than blisters and dehydration.  But turkeys are hard to kill sitting on the couch back at camp, so we must put forth the effort to try to find a turkey to deal with.

Shockey on Searching

When you have hunted as long as champion caller Larry Shockey has, you know how to approach “the next phase” of a turkey hunt.  For Shockey, an eight-time World Champion and three-time Grand National Champion in the Two-Man, his prospecting routine is no routine at all.

“I think one thing hunters do wrong is they fall into a routine of how they go about prospecting for turkeys.  I try to let each morning dictate what I do.  If the woods are alive with crows, why would I think that they would respond to my crow call?  Do not get me wrong, I cover a lot of ground, but I’m not always walking through the woods crow calling or cutting when I prospect,” explains Shockey, a native of Willow Springs, Missouri.  “I’m more patient these days in how I prospect.  Turkeys can pick up a hunter that has a routine or hunts too fast.”

“I learned how to hunt turkeys by myself.  I did not have anyone to show me how to hunt turkeys.  I used to go through the woods calling non-stop, and could not understand why some turkeys that had been hearing me for several cutting sequences would all of the sudden answer me at a certain stop,” reflects Shockey.  “I then realized that I was striking turkeys when I would be in areas that had fresh turkey sign.  I believe that when you call from an area that turkeys have been recently, you’ll be able to strike them easier because they are more confident you are the real thing instead of a hunter.”

Shockey places an emphasis on being low-impact when he prospects.  He says that the way he slips through an area is a big part of being successful not just on that hunt, but on future hunts.  “I never want to leave myself exposed.  I try to stay on the sides of the ridges when I am hunting in hilly terrain, I never walk through fields or openings, and when I am hunting in swamps I use the water and shadows to keep me concealed.  If you walk through the woods recklessly when you are prospecting, you’ll educate your turkeys in a hurry.”

Duck for Cover

I learned a lesson on “staying on your toes” while cutting and running in the spring of 2011.  I had endured a painful miss on the morning of March 31 and was out for revenge that afternoon.  I went to a new tract of land I had leased that had a long winding road traversing the length of the property.  While the property did not hold staggering numbers of turkeys, it was tailor-made for finding whatever turkeys were there.

On the loop back to the truck I unleashed a “gobble you rascal” cutting sequence that was greeted by a lonesome gobbler less than 80 yards off the road.  I quickly ran up the road and set up, and upon plopping down next to a pine tree could hear faint drumming coming down the road.  Less than five minutes later, I rolled the two year old longbeard at twenty steps.   I didn’t even have time to get my heart rate up.

Striking a turkey on a run and gun expedition may be one of the most exhilarating aspects of our sports.  Remember that at anytime, your hunt can go from zero to sixty, so make sure you are ready to “hit the dirt.”  It may not be long before something else hits the dirt!
Author:
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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