Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Turkey Hunting Tips

Turkey Photos by L. Ross

Turkey Hunting Tips and Map Updates for Turkey and Deer Hunters

By: L. Woodrow Ross

Turkey season is just around the corner. As a hunter, you can’t have too much information. Scouting is an important part of hunting for turkeys as well as for deer.
If you can home in on a roosting area, this is a good location to hunt. Try to be there the evening before the hunt and listen for birds flying onto the roost.

Just because you saw turkeys roosting in an area last year doesn’t mean they will be there this season. Turkeys move on a large circuit. They may be in one area for a week or two and then move on to another location. They will eventually complete the circle and return to an area, but it pays to scout before hunting.

When hunting, don’t approach too close to the roost. Try to find a clear areas where the gobblers will fly down in the morning to strut. If you approach too closely to the roost, you will spook the birds. If you call to the gobblers and they don’t respond, don’t make a move too soon. Even though they don’t answer, they may be approaching and it may take a while. Eventually, if they don’t respond, move to a new location and try calling with a different call. Often, turkeys will not respond to one call, but will immediately gobble when they hear another.

As a turkey hunter, become proficient with as many calls as possible. This should include box calls, slate calls, diaphragmn calls, tube calls, wingbone calls and box call variations with separate strikers of wood or slate. The traditional wingbone call is not used as much as it was historically, but can be deadly. My friend Jim Casada, well-known author and lecturer, is a virtuoso with a wingbone call and has killed more than 200 wild turkeys and many fell victim to the allure of his wingbone call.

Maps are available on SCDNR’s website for “Turkey Density Distribution” and “Peak Breeding Dates for Deer”. The map information for deer is the first developed for the state, but the turkey information is an update after a 10-year period.

The information about the deer “Rut” or breeding period is very interesting. Any time you get a group of deer hunters together, there will be arguments about the effects of the moon phase and weather on rut dates. The truth, as documented in the newly reported data, is that photo-periodism or length of day determines the breeding season of deer.

Part of the misconception that weather is a major influence in the rut is if the weather is unseasonably warm, the deer move more at night and are not encountered by hunters. Therefore, the general thought is that the rut is not in progress.

Basic dates for breeding run from mid-October to mid-November. These dates are slightly earlier in the coastal plain, but a month later in the mountains. If you home in on those dates in your region, it will provide you the best chance of taking a “bragging” buck.

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