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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…]