Turkey Hunting: Pressure Points

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There is no question that the sport of turkey hunting is an addictive sport.  If it wasn't, why would we push ourselves to the brink of insanity to bag a bird with a brain the size of a walnut?  As small as that brain may be, it has a remarkable way of lighting a fire in us that drives us to dodge snakes, fight mosquitoes, wade through swollen creeks, climb steep hills, and battle the elements, all for a bird.

Sometimes the pressure we put on ourselves to harvest a turkey is passed on to the bird itself, resulting in wary gobblers and silent mornings.  We are all guilty of over-stepping our boundaries and thus educating the turkeys that we hunt.  Contrary to popular belief, public land hunters are not the only hunters that pressure their birds; even those of us fortunate to hunt private ground can stress our turkeys if we get overzealous in our pursuit of them.

Leo Allen, co-owner of Bent Creek Lodge in Jachin, Alabama, can certainly attest to this.  As a principal in one of the countries' premier and most-visited turkey hunting camps, Allen understands that even private ground turkeys get stressed out as the season wears on. "We typically hunt around eight hunters per day during turkey season.  Each hunter is paired up with a guide that has around 3,000-4,000 acres to hunt.  We really leave the approach relative to pressure up to each guide.  They know the territories as good or better than we do, and know that they have to hunt those territories for the rest of the season, so they can’t burn them out the first week by running roughshod over the countryside,” explains Allen.

“We are fortunate to have a lot of turkeys,” says Allen, “and I feel having a lot of turkeys is the best way to reduce pressure.  When a hunter can focus on one gobbling turkey, and does not have to go cutting and running through the woods trying to find a turkey, they’ll be able to minimize the impact they have on the turkeys in an area.  Pressure typically comes when hunters are in search mode; they tend to get a little careless and bump birds.”

Easterns, however, are not the only subspecies that experience pressure.  Jim Kuhn of Nebraska Trophy Bucks and Beards runs a sizeable and very successful operation in central Nebraska that hosts an average of fifty turkey hunters a year.  "We lease around 80,000 acres of private ranches to hunt, although our core turkey hunting areas total 15,000 acres.  As vast of an area as that might sound, it can still get pressure over the course of our lengthy season, which runs from mid-April until the end of May," says Kuhn.  "You want your clients to be successful, but at the same time you don't want to give your birds Ph.D's."

"We try to rest some areas that maybe we have hit harder than others.  We may hunt one group on one ranch then hunt the next on another.  Certain ranches may hold more birds than others, and we'll obviously hunt those more, but we definitely keep pressure in mind."

"The one thing I think many hunters do to pressure their birds is push it when they'd be better off backing off, trying a new spot, or eating biscuits at the camp," laughs Kuhn.  “If the turkeys aren't cooperating, what are you really accomplishing by staying out there with them?  It doesn't take many bad encounters with hunters before the birds wise up."

For more information on hunting Alabama Easterns, visit www.bentcreeklodge.com or call Leo Allen at 1-205-398-3040.  For more information on hunting Nebraska’s Merriams and hybrids at Nebraska Trophy Bucks and Birds, visit www.1greathunt.com or call Jim Kuhn at 308-391-2829.

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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