Turkey Hunting: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

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No matter where you hunt, there is always going to be a specific characteristic of that place that annoys the heck out of you.  It may be a thick creek bank that you never seem to be on the right side of.  Or it could be a massive cutover that the longbeard you are hunting pitches 100 yards out into every morning.  If you could wave your magic wand, you would make whatever hindrances your hunting turf has disappear, and thus (at least in your mind) would stand a much better chance of tagging out. 

My annoyance is not a creek or clearcut, or anything that can cause a hang-up.  It is Interstate 20/59 in west Alabama, one of the busiest interstates in the country that just so happens to run within a mile of my turkey turf.  Every morning, I have to listen to the constant hum of the world in motion, which makes it very hard to hear turkeys.  Unlike a secluded county road that may have a car or two drive down it in a morning, I 20/59 never ceases its racket.  The frequency level of road traffic falls in the same range as that of a turkeys’ gobble, so as you could imagine, a turkey pretty much has to be on top of you in order to hear him.

Road traffic is not the only annoyance some hunters may face.  They could be hunting next to a loud factory, a railroad, or an airport.  Whatever the background noise may be, you have to learn to adapt and alter your strategy in order to be successful.

Play the Wind

It seems as if the prevalent wind in the spring time is the dreaded easterly wind.  Because the interstate is to our east, you can pretty much rule out certain places on our property when the wind is out of the east.  On these mornings, you are hard pressed to hear a turkey when he is over 300 yards from you.  We try to save these spots for days in which the wind is out of the west or northwest, with the silver lining being we tend to run into a wad of turkeys that have had a few days free of pressure.  So try to use the wind to block off the sound and plan when you will be hunting certain places accordingly by looking at the forecast.

Quiet Like Sunday Morning

Sunday is a day of rest for the majority of the general public, and is typically the best day to hunt areas where road traffic is a problem.  You do not have nearly as many people going to work or school, so traffic tends to be lighter.  We try to save noisy areas for Sunday mornings, as the noise is probably cut down by a good 70% on the Sabbath.

Try A Late Morning or Midday Hunt

As the morning hours wear on, the air “lightens up” and as a result the traffic noise becomes less of a problem, coupled with the fact that most people will already be at their destination for the day.  You may want to slip into areas that were a tad bit too loud at daybreak to see if a noisy gobbler is in the area.  You will stand a much better chance of hearing him then versus at first light.

Assume He Is Much Closer Than He Sounds

If you cannot find a quiet spot on your property and must hunt amongst the noise, keep in mind that your range of hearing may be reduced by 50-75%.  Granted, some hunters may be hunting near a road that affords you some quiet periods in between passing cars, but when it is noisy, you can give up on hearing one a quarter-mile away.  Because of this, you need to assume that if you do hear one, he is half as close as he sounds, and you certainly do not want to bump him.  I tend to hunt a little bit slower whenever the roads are “really rollin.”

Several years back I had roosted a turkey that was less than a quarter-mile from the interstate.  The next morning, I arrived to hear the familiar yet deafening hum, and strained my ears in an attempt to hear the gobbler I had tucked in the night before.  I knew exactly where he was at, so I got less than 300 yards from him and waited for him to gobble.  When I finally heard him gobble, you could barely hear him.  Even though we ended up killing the turkey, it was frustrating not being able to hear him drumming and his hens clucking and purring before we took the shot.

External factors are simply a part of life, and the sport of turkey hunting is not insulated from those factors.  We cannot bury our heads in the sand or sulk; we must adapt and persevere.  Try these tips the next time you hunt in a “high traffic area!”
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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