In most States, turkey season is underway. The Pennsylvania opener is closing in, and it’s time to tighten up the loose ends.
Let’s breeze through 7 quick tips to improve your PA Spring gobbler season!
One of the best ways to put a bird on the ground is to hunt fresh birds. Do your best to hunt the opener and as many early days of the season as possible. Turkeys respond quickly to hunting pressure. They will move roosts, use different resting areas, and worst of all, stop gobbling.
Fresh birds are relaxed birds. That makes them more likely to fly off a roost into your setup. Pressured birds are likely to take their time and taunt you before committing to your calls.
Sneak Behind the Pressure
Roosted birds aren’t the easiest to surprise. Turkeys that hear abnormal noises below are likely to proceed with caution after fly-down. Other hunters are aware of this and use caution to sneak on a vocal tom.
Playing it safe on a roosted bird isn’t always a bad strategy. But if you want to kill birds, you’ll have to be ok with losing a few first.
Get aggressive! Go behind the hunting pressure when other hunters play it safe and allow him to enter an escape route. Block the access to the back door when that gobbler goes through it.
Hunting later is a perfect way to find refreshed birds. After the first week of the season, gobblers are often unwilling to talk. A week of less hunting pressure will get those jelly-heads gobbling again.
Later in the season means hotter weather, more bugs, more snakes, and thicker cover. Those are all unpleasant details, especially for east coast hunters. Don’t give up; those last week birds are often the easiest to kill, and they’re often the best birds you’ll find all season.
Turkeys are nervous critters, and small changes will affect them in a big way. Fallen trees or thicker cover will make them move elsewhere to search for living quarters.
That means the spot you killed a turkey last year will probably not be the place to look again. During your spring shed hunting and scouting, take note of things that might make a turkey leave the area. Also, note the changes that might block a bird’s response to your calls. Gobblers that hang up behind a barrier are the bane of a good caller’s existence.
Soft, less frequent, and not calling are valid theories, sometimes required. But there are those of us who love to call. If that’s you, you’re likely overcalling, and honestly, that’s ok! Have fun because that’s what you’re hunting for in the first place.
If you like aggressive calling, figure out what level of excitement can fool a bird. It’s not very hard to get a turkey to gobble, but pay close attention to what makes him move closer to your position. Vary the sounds of your calls. Soft, subtle, loud, short, long; be like a hen on a roller coaster to the point that a gobbler can’t resist.
Fired Up Birds
These are the birds you want to find. When it comes to turkeys, arguing with one for more than an hour is beyond my attention span. Unless, of course, I think I still have a good chance of killing him.
Time in the field will tell you which birds are killable and which are not. Killable birds become excited quickly, almost charging your call. When seasoned birds respond, they often stop out of range and become silent. The silence can mean a few things; he’s strutting, spooked, or slowly creeping in.
The later bird will make you wait. But a fired-up tom will interrupt your calling while rushing in your direction.
Finding a gobblers location is easy initially. We all know about shock gobbles, but they stop working after an adept tom has heard every owl hoot and crow caw known to man. Get creative; coyote howls, elk bugles, air horns, woodpeckers, duck quacks, goose honks, and hawk screams will elicit shock gobbles.
Remember, some of those sounds represent predators. Use predator sounds sparingly and never use them close to roosts or loafing areas. If you do, a turkey may only shock gobble once and become silent for the rest of the morning.
Non-threatening shock-type calls that a turkey isn’t used to hearing will likely bring a response consistently. That makes them a good choice for a run and gun-style turkey hunts.
Be aggressive while remaining safe in the turkey woods. You’ve got a lot to gain by losing a few times first. Most turkey hunting is trial and error. You’re likely to bring a bird every spring when you’ve learned the recipe.