Most turkey hunters approach big blocks of public land by driving the roads or walking the ridges with box calls and owl hooters, trying to strike a bird. But public-land gobblers that will sound off to a crow call at noon don’t live long. When you find an area full of fresh turkey sign, it makes sense to stay put, even if you don’t hear a gobble right away.
There’s a 170,000-acre national forest near me, and I spend almost all my time there each spring hunting one long ridge that’s only a couple of hundred yards from a busy gravel road. Last year, I hunted it four times and killed two turkeys. The ridge always has fresh turkey sign but doesn’t stand out otherwise. I’m successful there because I’ve taken the time to learn it.
For the first half hour of daylight on any given morning of the season, that gravel road is the source of constant disturbance from other hunters. There are diesel engines purring, truck doors slamming, and owl hooters blaring. Nothing much gobbles at that. But once those other hunters move on and the place gets quiet, a tom will usually sound off all on his own.
Since I arrive and sit there well before daylight, rather than run the roads with a locator call, I’m ready and waiting when I hear the first gobble. Often it takes no more than a couple of yelps to bring them into my lap.
Photographs by The Voorhes