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Tips for Tagging Gobblers By Gary Howey

  The gobble rang out across the creek bottom, up onto the road where I was using my shock calls to get a Tom to give away his location. As my call faded, a resounding gobble came from the tree-lined hillside adjacent to the creek

  From the direction the gobble came from, it appeared that the birds were in the same general area where I had located them last spring. It looked as if my plan for opening day this year would be much the same as it was last season.

  Before I head out opening morning,  I’m going to make sure I have everything ready, starting with checking my camo, making sure it’s in good shape and going from there to my calls, backpacks and shotgun.

  Because I use my Winchester 12 gauge for several different hunts, I need to change my choke to either a full or extra full depending on what shells pattern the best with a particular choke.

  I’ll test fire my shotgun at several turkey targets and decide which choke works best with which shells allowing me to put the most BB’s in the neck and head region of the target.

  My opening day location was an area that could be hard to get into without spooking the birds, as it would require a good quarter mile walk over some open ground so the approach needed to be early, well before daylight and had to be done quietly. 

  Turkeys have an excellent hearing and if you don’t come in quietly, they’ll know something’s up and pitch out of the trees in the opposite direction.

  What the birds can’t pickup with their hearing; they’ll spot you with their excellent vision. Their night vision isn’t good but once there’s enough light to see, they can detect movement and danger.

  Now that you’re close, you need to set up, depending on how you have things laid out. In several of my locations I hunt on, I have deadfalls that I can climb behind and be hid, some are trees which have fell and trimmed so I can shoot over the top while others are dead timber I’ve drug over and piled up where I want to call the birds to. In other locations I hunt, I won’t have the luxury of dragging trees around and will have to rely on my poke in the ground blind, that’s lightweight and adjustable to any height so you can shoot over the top of it.

  There are times when put out a decoy and other times when i avoid them completely, the main factor as to when I should use decoys is how the gobblers have acted to them in past seasons. If the decoys seemed to spook the birds, I go without, but if they don’t bothered them, I’ll probably put them out [Read more…]

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Getting ready for Spring Turkey By Gary Howey

  For those of you, who like me, live for spring shotgun turkey hunting, our wait is almost over; it will not be long before we will be in the field.

  Archers have been in the field since March 25 in Nebraska and April 1 in South Dakota while the hunters armed with shotguns will have to wait until South Dakota until April 8 and Nebraska April 15.

  With the increase in turkey numbers throughout the upper Midwest, we hunters have the opportunity to obtain several permits.

  There have been years, when my hunting partners and I have had permits in several states, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Missouri.

  The first thing I do once I know I’ll have my permit, is to get out and check with the farmers and ranchers where I’ve hunted in the past, obtaining permission, as things might have changed since the last time I hunted there. In some cases, part of or all of the land may have been sold or been leased to another or woodlands converted to crop ground, which changes our whole game plan. 

  After obtaining permission, I do a drive by; looking the area over for any changes that might have occurred since I was there last and armed with this information will locate a map of the area so I know exactly how the land lies and where the property lines are. It is not a bad idea to contact adjourning landowners to inform them you will be hunting the area so there will not be any surprises when they see you or your vehicle parked near their land. 

  I do not know how many times I have stopped by an adjourning landowner to let them know I would be hunting nearby, when they thanked me or even gave me permission to hunt on their land.

  After getting my permission and obtaining everything I could find about where I plan on hunting,  I’ll spend some spend time in the field, scouting, with my first scouting opportunity while hunting deer sheds as this gives me an early opportunity to check things out.

  During this time of the year, there may be snow on the ground, with the birds still in their large winter flocks, if so, locating them, an easy task.

  With snow on the ground, figuring out where the birds are congregating, feeding and roosting is easier. Turkeys are scratchers, so look for areas where the snow or leaves are pulled back, leaving open areas, where the turkeys have scratched down through the ground debris and snow to find food. [Read more…]

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I’m a “Fan” of Turkey Hunting By Gary Howey

  It was twelve or so years ago, when I suggested to my  hunting partner Larry Myhre that we should come up with some type of turkey fan that would help us sneak up on Gobblers. He thought it was a good idea, but said it sounded like work and he was looking for less.

   That next spring, I took one of my turkey fans that I had spread out and dried into the field with me, didn’t have much luck with it and abandoned the idea.

   Since then, I’ve used then every spring and have fooled more long beards with them than I had every thought possible.

   Several years ago, my Outdoor Adventures radio co-host Simon Fuller was operating the camera as I called in a group of young birds using a combination of my calls and the fan. They five of them came into my decoys feeling brave with all of the birds fanned out as they approached my jake and hen decoys.

 As they surrounded my jake decoy, I made the raspy call of an old gobbler, raised the fan and all five of the birds about dirtied themselves as they did their best to get away from my fan.

  On the same hunt, using my fan and calling, I called a hen a long ways and when she came within sight of my decoys lost interest and started to move away. However, when I brought my fan back up, she came within arm’s reach of me and refused to leave, I think she fell in love with my turkey fan. I finally had to chase her away as she was messing up my turkey hunting.

  Later that day as we were heading back towards town with my Honda Pioneer, we spooked a big Tom that took off running across a pasture. Down the road a ways, we spotted two gobblers and a hen bout a 1/2 mile away, in order for the birds to hear and see the fan, we crawled through the pasture, with my fan out in front of us, up to the fence line and started calling. I watched the birds with my binoculars and each time I called, they would gobble but not leave the hen.

  Simon had the camera zeroed in on them as I brought the fan up high and worked it from side to side, hoping to get the birds attention, but to no avail. Suddenly I saw the gobbler, the bird we had spooked as we came in, on the other side of the gobblers and hen and each time I raised the fan, he would head in our direction.

  He ran right past the other birds and came in our direction and each time the fan came up would strut and gobble, coming closer all the time.

  When I said “the birds coming in”, Simon who was still locked on the two gobblers and hen disagreed with me and wasn’t sure what I was talking about. By this time the bird was out a 100 yards or so when I told Simon “can you hold this fan up as I can’t shoot and run it at the same time” that he looked my way and spotted the gobbler out in front of me. [Read more…]

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Down to the Last Wire – In the final Hour Nebraska Turkey Hunt By Gary Howey

  The Tom gobbled once as he made his way west out of the field and I knew it was going to be a tough hunt as it was the last day of the Nebraska Spring turkey season and his harem of hens were with him.

 In Nebraska, the turkeys began mating before the April 26 Nebraska opener and it was on May 31, the last day of the season.  This wasn’t our first trip as Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Member Josh Anderson, Hartington and I had been out several times, only to return home empty handed.

  It had been a good season for both of us as Josh had three tags, filling all three. On two of them, I had the opportunity to be along, filming his first archery turkey hunt as well as his  shotgun hunt, while he had gone out and called in his third bird.

  It was a tough spring to hunt, as when it wasn’t raining, it was windy, so calling birds was tough. Not that it’s impossible, but when you’re hunting and have a camera along, moisture and winds don’t go well when bringing along camera equipment.

  My first bird came when I was scouting for the next day’s filming,  when I stumbled into a flock of turkeys, with several big Gobblers. I couldn’t help myself and called one in, allowed him to strut around my decoy a bit and then knocked him down.

  Josh and I had planned several different trips, but we’re beaten back by rain and the horrendous winds we’ve had this spring. When we did make it out, our calls must have not sounded sweet enough for the Gobblers, as they refused to leave their hens and come our way.

  When it’s the last few hours of the last day of the season, things change and we decided in order to film the show and fill the tag we may have to change our tactics. This late in the season, if they wouldn’t come to us we were going to have to go to them.

  Our first set up on the final day required a good quarter mile hike toting our decoys, shotgun, camera and turkey fan, as we made our way to a thick shelterbelt.  Once there, we would need to get through it quietly to where we had first spotted the birds. As we came to the north side of the trees, we hunkered down and glassed the area, seeing no birds; I gave a soft hen yelp. A resounding gobble came from behind us on the side we had just come through and while making our way through the chest high grass, we must have bypassed the bird.

  Not wanting to give up on the bird, I’d call, and if there were no response, pause a minute or two before Josh would give it a go. One gobble was all we could get from the bird and he seemed happy to stay right where he was.

  On the outside of the trees was some more tall grass, so seeing very far out in front of us was impossible. I motioned to Josh that I was going to move up to the fence line along the edge of the alfalfa field and that he should follow.

  We managed to move a short distance to the fence line without making too much racket and once we were settled in, glassed the field. Off to our right we could see one good bird and several hens, but they were heading away from us. I called to the gobbler, getting his attention, with his red head and neck extending out as far as possible, hoping to see the bird that was calling to him.

  He continued to move away from us, went under the fence as he walked away and with nothing but open ground between us, we had to wait for the gobbler and hens to disappear in a low spot in the alfalfa field.

  It looked like this would be another one of those days, where we would see gobblers, but couldn’t get to them. [Read more…]

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Turkey hunting’s most often asked questions By Larry Myhre

 

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

Over the years, I have given several turkey hunting seminars.

I am always amazed at the very good questions those in attendance ask. Today, I am going to relate some of those questions and give my answers. If you are a beginning turkey hunter, you may find this very interesting.

Are windy days good for turkey hunting?

The short answer is “No.” Wind makes it difficult for the toms to hear your calling. Your effective range becomes less as the wind becomes stronger. Also, all wildlife is more cautious in windy weather. And the reason is simple. They can’t hear as well, and hearing is one of their defenses. In the case of the wild turkey his best defense is his eyes. Secondly it is his hearing. Of course you can be successful on windy days, it’s just that I’d rather hunt in the rain than in the wind. Which brings us to our next question.

Can you be successful if it is raining?

You can be successful hunting turkeys in the rain. Of course if you are talking monsoon or a thunderstorm with wind and hail, the answer is probably not. But those gentle, all-day spring rains are no reason to stay at home. Turkeys will generally move to the edges of fields outside the timber during light rains and can definitely be found there once the rain stops

What causes a tom turkey to “hang up” and not come in to your calls?

There are lots of reasons, but most likely the tom is already with hens. I think it was probably a tom turkey that came up with the saying “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” If he is with hens he will simply gobble and expect you to come to him and join the harem. After all, that’s how it is done in nature. If the tom is not with hens, he may have come up against a barrier. That may be a fence, a creek, a deep ravine or a road. That’s why it pays to scout thoroughly. If you know the lay of the land, you can make a good guess on why he is not coming in. [Read more…]

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Turkey Hunting The “Run and Gun” Method By Gary Howey

No matter what type of outdoor activity you are into, windy, cold, damp days can put an end to most activities before they start!
This especially true when it comes to a spring turkey hunt, making a hunter thinking more about the nice warm bed he’s in than chasing turkeys in the rain!
Calling spring turkey when it is cold and damp is a tough job, but do not think all turkeys hole up during these types of weather conditions. There are always a few toms out there looking around for a receptive hen!
This is when we revert to what we refer to as aggressive turkey hunting tactics. This is something not talked about a lot as it involves more work than other turkey hunting tactics.
You’ve more than likely seen TV shows or videos where the hunter makes a few calls, sets down in one spot for a couple of minutes and then the bird magically appears!
These hunters on these programs do not need to look around a whole lot to locate the birds because they are in an area that they have been in before or he is hunting next to a feeder in his own backyard.
If you spend a lot of time in an area and spend a lot of that time looking for the birds, you are going to know exactly where they are!
Because we are filming in different locations, in areas we may have never seen before, we arrive the day before the hunt, scouting as time allows, but there are times when our schedule puts us into an area after dark and scouting just does not happen.
This is where we revert to my aggressive turkey calling.
On opening morning, we are in the field well before daybreak, not a half hour, I mean when it is pitch dark as turkeys may not have the best night vision, they still can detect movement in low light conditions.
If the area looks like it would hold turkeys, we like to use a locator call to get a response from the Toms.
We start our hunt by jumping from one ridge line to another calling with our owl, crow or predator calls trying to get an old gobbler to shock gobble
Don’t travel along the top of the ridges: as a turkey’s keen eyes will pick you out against the skyline and your hunt will be over before it begins.
Travel just below the ridge line, high enough to be able to see and hear what is going on below you, but not high enough to be silhouetted against the skyline.
If there is no answer, we will break out our binoculars and glance along the ridges, trying to spot the birds as they come down from the roost.

[Read more…]

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Turkey Decoys By Gary Howey

When I started, hunting turkeys back in the 70’s it was a new sport in this part of the country and we learned as we went along.

Hunting turkeys with decoys was the furthest thing from our minds.

A friend of mine from Crofton, NE. heard about hunters down south using decoys to draw gobblers into shotgun range and since none was available in our area, he made one. Using an old Styrofoam Canada goose decoy, he whittled on it and then painted it to resemble a turkey, well, kind-o- sort of! It looked like a deformed, mostly black Canada goose that had gotten in a fight and LOST. It was bulky, made a lot of nose when going through the woods, but it worked.

If I was going to be serious about turkey hunting, I had to have one and when the first plastic expandable hen decoys came out, I got me one. They folded flat, and could be spread out, bulking them up by using the T-handle stake, making them appear larger. I could easily carry the folded up decoy in the game pouch of my turkey-hunting vest. Since they were hard plastic, they too made a lot of noise when walking through the trees.

These first decoys were upright, because of the stake they were on, stuck up in the air quite a ways with the decoys head in the alert position, the way turkeys hold their head when they are alerted, looking around.

To keep my decoy from being positioned too high in the air and to get it out of the alert position, I shortened up the stake, lowering it closer to the ground, tilting it forward into more of a feeding position.

Then there were the foam decoys, allowing me to carry several of these decoys in my game pouch. This is when Ii started experimenting with putting the hen decoy in the breeding position. I’d place my hen decoy flat on the ground with the Tom positioned a short distance away looking in her direction. This worked well until the wind came up when the foam decoys would jump around, working its way out of the ground, and flying off across the field with me in hot pursuit.

Since then, I have used any number of decoys, some in groups of two, on up to a whole flock, experimenting with silhouette, full bodies, stuffed birds and inflatable decoys.

Today, turkey hunters have a wide variety of turkey decoys they can use. If you are just getting into turkey hunting, it can be confusing as there are so many decoy postures. There’s the

feeding, breeding, submissive, alert, strutting and so on and so forth.

There are several things I look for when I choose a decoy or decoys that I plan to use in the spring. The time of the season and how the Toms are putting together their harems re a few of the things you want to consider before heading out into the woods.

When putting out turkey decoys, you want to use a decoy or decoys that aren’t going to alert the birds, a position like the feeding hen, as it is the most natural position in nature.

Almost all turkey flocks have some feeding hens, which are followed closely by strutting Toms, and it doesn’t get more realistic or relaxed than that. The other position that works in a flock situation is the breeding (hen on the ground) position. Since the breeding position puts the hen on the ground, they are hard for the Tom to see so you need an upright decoy to get the gobbler’s attention.

I use a basic, realistic decoy set up, which is a feeding hen, strutting gobbler and an alert (lookout) hen. The number of decoys, how they will be set up depends on the terrain I’m hunting in. [Read more…]

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SHOT Show-2015 What’s New for the Outdoorsmen Part 1 By Gary Howey

We just returned from spending three days at the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Technology (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas held at the Sands Convention Center. This is a huge event bringing together manufacturers, hunters, shooters, press, military, police, mass merchandisers, gun shop owners, sporting goods store owners and celebrities, those of us that live and breathe the shooting sports. At the show, thousands of exhibitors display some of the latest’s and greatest products coming to market in 2015.

If you are looking for anything to do with shooting, this is where all the new products are introduced.

In our next two columns, we will highlight some of those products that should make your next trip to the field and range much more enjoyable and successful.

Lucky Duck Flapper Canada Goose Decoy with Remote

Over the years, our Team has hunted over hundreds of decoy spreads all over the U.S. These spreads have drawn brought ducks and geese in, with those with decoy movement involved bringing the waterfowl in quicker, getting them to commit, bringing them in, wings set, and feet down, right out in front of our hunters.

This last season one of the hunters we hunt with brought the Lucky Flapper Canada Goose Decoy with a Remote, which increased the number of geese coming to our decoys tremendously.

It is a life size Canada Goose Decoy with a Flocked Head, featuring durable flapping magnetic EVA wings, which makes for easy setup.

The unit comes with a remote control, twelve-volt battery, charger and metal tripod base. It runs continuous or intermittent-3 seconds on, and then 10 seconds off with variable speeds.

The head of the decoy is thirty-six inches off the ground with a wingspan of forty-three inches. The remote will work out to 100 yard from the decoy, running up to 9 hours continuous on one charge.

More information on this and other Lucky Duck decoys available at www.luckyduck.com

Winchester Deer Season XP Ammunition

Deer hunting is a popular sport in North America with over 10 million hunters who wait for the deer season in hopes of tagging one of the estimated 26 million deer found in the United States.

There is not a lot of ammunition made specifically for deer hunting, the majority of the deer hunters out there have been using ammunition built for a variety of animals, with much of the available ammo, overbuilt for hunting a thin-skinned animal such as the deer. Those bullets have did a good job over the years, what Winchester was looking for was a bullet made specifically for deer hunters. [Read more…]