Question for the turkey experts

Ol MuckyOl Mucky Posts: 5,476 Admiral
What are some sets/scenarios you utilize early season?

Examples:

Males are together away from the hens
Gobblers are close proximity to the hens
All grouped together (Toms, Jakes, Hens)
etc

Do you typically like to use the same decoys no matter the scenario?

Strutter only when you know xxxxx scenario exists?

Hen and Jake?


This is just a discussionary thread, not suggesting you t reveal your deepest best tricks, but its nice to hear methods of how folks approach the early season, different nuances etc.
I have a much bigger and more powerful button

Replies

  • flydownflydown Posts: 6,462 Admiral
    Early season birds, like late season birds, are capricious and rarely do the same thing two days in a row. Especially when they're in bachelor groups. Bachelor groups that are still intact once the season begins are typically subordinate birds that have had their butts kicked by the dominant bird, and they are usually easier to kill.

    However..

    I've had one bachelor group of birds come in on a string one day and another group completely ignore me. Turkeys just being turkeys.

    Typically, when the season begins, the birds are broken up and the Toms are strutting with hens by then. Lots of hens. Which tend to hold the Tom's attention and always have their heads up keeping him safe.

    The only consistent way I've found to kill birds during this time, is either to get in close to the roost early (hoping to kill them at fly down), ambush them on their travel route, or wait them out until the hens head off to nest. That's when the Toms tend to become more cooperative during this time.

    As far as decoys go.. Each year, I use decoys less and less. They have their place, but lately, I've had them hinder more hunts than not. Seems Mr. Tom has seen one too many plastic birds for his liking and has learned to associate them with death.

    When I do use decoys, it's typically a pair. Usually a Jake and a hen or two. Sometimes, if I know a boss bird is in the area, I'll break out the strutter. But, I've had the strutter decoy scare off more birds than he has attracted. Maybe he just a bad **** and I need to give him an estrogen injection or two!

    This year, I'm going to try a new approach (Which doesn't really suit my strengths being that I am a bit clumsy) and get in close to them on the roost. Transparently, I have always been a somewhat good turkey caller, and have always relied on my strengths of calling them in to kill them.

    But like I said earlier, the game is changing..
    DYING for me was the most HE could do. LIVING for HIM is the least I can do
  • huntmstrhuntmstr Posts: 6,285 Admiral
    I no longer use decoys unless I'm hunting big fields, and then I use one or two hens. I use a tail fan more often than anything and again, only when I have a dominate bird that is henned up and won't stop pinwheeling (strutting and turning in place for an extended period of time). Many times, that tail fan and a deep yelp or a short gobble is all I need to get him to leave his hens and come to me looking for a fight. Otherwise, I work their curiosity and use my knowledge of the terrain to position myself or my clients for a shot.
    Bushnell, Primos and Final Approach Pro Staff. Proud member of the Fab Five, Big Leaugers and Bobble Head 4.

    I had you pissed off at hello.
  • flhawghuntrflhawghuntr Posts: 108 Deckhand
    Mucky take me to that place where you got them great pics and I would be glad to show you different decoy setups when they die over them :rotflmao
    " Better being thirty minutes early than five minutes late "
  • Ol MuckyOl Mucky Posts: 5,476 Admiral
    ha, well its not just this place or my exact scenario that prompted this thread.
    (the one you mentioned that I have will be ambush along their travel corridor)
    But, as mentioned, there are so many different scenarios, approaches, etc.

    I listened to a recent interview with a fella that works for Knight and Hale (Rod Petit), and he said some very interesting things and how he approaches hunting, etc.
    I wanted to hear how our region/methods compared to his (so far the responses here are great!).
    I have a much bigger and more powerful button
  • AllenRAllenR Posts: 2,699 Captain
    flydown wrote: »
    Early season birds, like late season birds, are capricious and rarely do the same thing two days in a row. Especially when they're in bachelor groups. Bachelor groups that are still intact once the season begins are typically subordinate birds that have had their butts kicked by the dominant bird, and they are usually easier to kill.
    Let me ask a question on this statement.
    Last year opening day of season I had 3 birds hammering on the roost. The birds were behind me, across a big cypress swamp, and off property on an adjoining lease. They absolutely made their throats sore gobbling at every noise and interrupting each other. When it came time for flydown, they shut up like you flipped a switch. Nothing. Not a peep. I had my ear muffs turned way up listening to the show and could not hear any hens with them (not to say they were or were not there). I sat on my food plot till after 10AM and only saw one lone hen peck her way thru. I called about every 15 minutes. This would have been about 150 yards the way of the crow from where they were gobbling
    I had to leave and go to camp to do some work. I left around 10:30ish and got back at 3. When I got back at 3PM, I eased up to the plot and those 3 birds were at the other end of it right on top of where I had been sitting all morning. A quick glimpse thru the bino's showed me they were all big birds in the 10"+ range

    Would you consider these 3 birds together a "bachelor group"? Do you think these birds "had their butts kicked"? Do you think they serviced and entertained hens all day, and finally made their way around to me at 3PM looking for more love?
    There was a flock of about 10 jakes in the area that my son killed one of the w/e before as well as a tom with an 8.5"er.
    I probably should have tried to move closer to the birds gobbling. But....the cypress pond was flooded and out of its normal bank so I would have to go off property to get to them. And it could have been a chess match not knowing which way around the pond the birds were going to go... if any.
  • dannosdoormatsdannosdoormats Posts: 169 Deckhand
    Having grown up in Ky hunting Turkeys when the statewide harvest was 300 birds, I can tell you this, we setup on the roost, wait for them to fly down in the opposite direction,then run-em-gun-em till noon! I would think down here, I would set up on the driest hammock I could find as RnG is not feasible in the swampy terrain. Most of our killable birds are in bach groups or leary less dom 2yr olds.
  • flydownflydown Posts: 6,462 Admiral
    See below
    AllenR wrote: »

    Would you consider these 3 birds together a "bachelor group"?

    Yes. I do.

    Do you think these birds "had their butts kicked"? Do you think they serviced and entertained hens all day, and finally made their way around to me at 3PM looking for more love?

    Most likely. There are so many hens to breed, so just like deer, subordinates are going to breed their share. As for the timing, I like to call that particular scenario "Turkey Timing". A turkey is eventually going to get to where you are. In HIS time!


    There was a flock of about 10 jakes in the area that my son killed one of the w/e before as well as a tom with an 8.5"er.
    I probably should have tried to move closer to the birds gobbling. But....the cypress pond was flooded and out of its normal bank so I would have to go off property to get to them. And it could have been a chess match not knowing which way around the pond the birds were going to go... if any.
    DYING for me was the most HE could do. LIVING for HIM is the least I can do
  • Ol MuckyOl Mucky Posts: 5,476 Admiral
    AllenR wrote: »
    I had 3 birds hammering on the roost. The birds were behind me, across a big cypress swamp, and off property on an adjoining lease. They absolutely made their throats sore gobbling at every noise and interrupting each other. When it came time for flydown, they shut up like you flipped a switch. Nothing. Not a peep.

    .

    not derailing cuz i want to read the reply, but this was my exact scenario Sunday.
    I have a much bigger and more powerful button
  • AllenRAllenR Posts: 2,699 Captain
    Having grown up in Ky hunting Turkeys when the statewide harvest was 300 birds, I can tell you this, we setup on the roost, wait for them to fly down in the opposite direction,then run-em-gun-em till noon! I would think down here, I would set up on the driest hammock I could find as RnG is not feasible in the swampy terrain. Most of our killable birds are in bach groups or leary less dom 2yr olds.
    I agree with that 1000% for N Fla. Same goes for slip hunting deer or hogs. It's just too hard to maneuver around. When you find you a good place that turkeys travel, you are better off getting comfortable and hanging out for the duration. It takes too much movement and noise to move with any stealth
  • huntmstrhuntmstr Posts: 6,285 Admiral
    Something I've found (especially with Osceolas) is how much less they talk now than they did some years back. They've always been less talkative than easterns, but even more so these days. My theory is coyote predation has quickly evolved these birds into being even less loquacious than they once were. In areas I hunt with very high predator numbers, one or two gobbles is all you may get out of a bird even from the roost.

    Of course I've witnessed the same behavior from gobblers roosted near their hens. After flydown, once all the birds have assembled and begin their normal turkey behavior, there's no reason for the gobblers to keep gobbling. He has his hens with him and he's going about his business. No amount of calling is going to get him to respond in most cases and it's certainly not going to get him to leave his flock of hens for you.
    Bushnell, Primos and Final Approach Pro Staff. Proud member of the Fab Five, Big Leaugers and Bobble Head 4.

    I had you pissed off at hello.
  • awayaway Posts: 240 Deckhand
    I've stopped using decoys entirely. I've found that I can do just as well without them and don't have to risk it around skiddish birds.

    Early season I'm usually spending the first couple mornings almost like I'm scouting - getting an idea of where they are roosting and how they are acting. But if you aren't an private land you may not have that ability.
  • micci_manmicci_man Somewhere in FLPosts: 12,269 AG
    First off I'm no exper so take this for what you paid for it.

    Second I do not use decoys for a few reasons.

    1- Early on in my turkey hunting I have heard to many stories of decoys spooking birds and or making them nurvous and botching the hunt/kill. I did buy a jake and hen decoy my first year of hunting but only used them twice and never killed a bird over them.

    2- If I can't get the bird to come to me with my calling then he won that match. I don't want a bird to run to me just because he see's a decoy and give me chance to kill him. To me I did nothing to earn that kill. I want to kill him because my calling brought him to me. Weather it be come right on in or taking his time but he just can't stand it and finally comes to me.

    3- I don't take up residence in an area. I will not "deer hunt" turkeys. I will move from place to place during a hunt to find birds and I don't need to be worring about toting around decoys. I like to travle light and be ready to move when I think I need to or to stay up with the birds.

    100% of my hunting is woods hunting. Some more open than others. I may be 50-100 yds from a field or plot but don't setup in them. Not sure why but I guess the success I have had doing it the way I do has something to do with it but I'm sure I will one day, who know's it may be this year.

    This doesn't work everytime but one thing that has worked for me several times on birds that won't leave their hens is to **** off the boss hen. If you do that and she comes so will he 99% of the time. Now my calling didn't bring him to me but it did bring her which brings him.
    Common Sense can't be bought, taught or gifted, yet it is one of the few things in life that is free, and most refuse to even attempt to possess it. - Miguel Cervantes
  • jonboaterjonboater Posts: 20 Greenhorn
    i haven't had a lot of time to scout due to work...but i put about 8 miles on my boots this morning. didn't hear a peep. saw 3-5 hens early in one area. i left this area and went to new grounds....found a spot with some sign, but didn't see any birds. this spot is several miles into the woods, far away from others!!! around 10 i went back and was driving around and saw several hens in the same area that i saw them early on.

    should i go to where i saw the hens and wait? my thinking on this is where there are hens there will be toms? or should i go to my new spot for first light?

    **** the decisions!!
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 4,218 Captain
    I will never claim to be an expert but, here is my experiance, we always put a couple decoys out but, not sure really it makes a difference, most of the times the birds come in from a different direction and never see the decoys anyway, they are coming to the calling. I have seen once where a gobbler saw the decoys and came running in. Otherwise they approach with caution.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.
  • flhawghuntrflhawghuntr Posts: 108 Deckhand
    A lot of times you will have multiple gobblers roosting together but most of the time our season opens the bachelor grouping is actually over. As these birds will be with hens and a few things will keep them from gobbling on the ground. Thick area, lots of preds in the area and one we all like to dismiss is his hens are with him. He is gobbling to call his hens to him. Down in Florida by the time our season starts the bachelor grouping will be broken up now that does mean they will not hang out still together. These birds want to breed where the bachelor group will not. Usually you have one dominant bird that will do all the breeding and the subordinate birds will try but usually get put in place.
    " Better being thirty minutes early than five minutes late "
  • down4dacountdown4dacount Posts: 2,580 Captain
    John he said experts in turkey not icecream
    ShotKam Pro Staff
    Full moons make me crazy and I go out and kill deer . Come to think all moon phases do that to me
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  • flydownflydown Posts: 6,462 Admiral
    John he said experts in turkey not icecream

    Don't hate 'cause I got the big bucks from Haagen Das! You find your own Pro Staff gig! Lol!!
    DYING for me was the most HE could do. LIVING for HIM is the least I can do
  • huntmstrhuntmstr Posts: 6,285 Admiral
    He did. He's a member of Team Chicharrón.
    Bushnell, Primos and Final Approach Pro Staff. Proud member of the Fab Five, Big Leaugers and Bobble Head 4.

    I had you pissed off at hello.
  • flydownflydown Posts: 6,462 Admiral
    huntmstr wrote: »
    He did. He's a member of Team Chicharrón.

    Man, I thought for sure he was gonna sign with Armour Vienna Sausages or the company that makes those goat peckers he likes so much!
    DYING for me was the most HE could do. LIVING for HIM is the least I can do
  • milkman2231milkman2231 Posts: 188 Officer
    This is exactly what I think about turkey hunting. I'm in love with the pursuit. I will not deer hunt a turkey. I don't use decoys because if you setup right he'll be dead before he could see the decoy anyway. Every time I go hunting my philosophy is there is a turkey out here that wants to die and its my job to find him. It doesn't always happen but like I said I love the pursuit as much as the kill maybe more. I wouldn't call my approach run and gun its more of a slow troll trying to find that one that wants to be a super star.

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk
    "Guys today don't know what real turkey hunting is. They don't carry on a conversation with the turkeys. They just sit in a blind and wait for the birds to come to them." Denny Gulvas.
  • Gone_FishingGone_Fishing Posts: 1,184 Officer
    huntmstr wrote: »
    Something I've found (especially with Osceolas) is how much less they talk now than they did some years back. They've always been less talkative than easterns, but even more so these days. My theory is coyote predation has quickly evolved these birds into being even less loquacious than they once were. In areas I hunt with very high predator numbers, one or two gobbles is all you may get out of a bird even from the roost.

    Of course I've witnessed the same behavior from gobblers roosted near their hens. After flydown, once all the birds have assembled and begin their normal turkey behavior, there's no reason for the gobblers to keep gobbling. He has his hens with him and he's going about his business. No amount of calling is going to get him to respond in most cases and it's certainly not going to get him to leave his flock of hens for you.

    I also think coyotes have reduced the ground gobbling. It seems like the birds are gobbling more in the tree, then hit the ground and puff up for the ladies. Even the hens are talking less on the ground.
  • PalmettoKidPalmettoKid Posts: 847 Officer
    There are no absolutes, obviously…

    However here are some pretty strong trends I have seen:

    When gobblers are grouped, use gobbler side of your paddle box. If you are competent enough, mock a fight. If you like decoys, a jake can work well, I like to set him up so it looks like he is stretching his neck towards the sky, really ticks off gobblers. Strutting decoys are also magic.

    When the gobblers are hen'd up, you better be where they want to be or be very good at coaxing the hens(which can be nearly impossible when birds are educated). Decoys hurt more than they help, sometimes a jake or strutter will pull the gobbler in if the hens hang up, but I would leave them at camp. You are better off sleeping in and hunting 9a-1p(or evening on private) when the gobblers are generally covering a lot of ground, alone.

    When hunting birds that are call-shy. Stay quiet and ambush them at pinch points, fly down areas or travel corridors.

    When hunting educated birds that 'hang up', always use your calls very sparingly and 'cast' the call in the opposite direction from the tom. Sometimes this can trick them into committing those extra few yards you need for them to get in range. Avoid using decoys. If you insist on using them, make sure they have a little motion in the breeze, stone stiff decoys make educated birds very uneasy. If you like pushing the envelope, call to the bird once then immediately move up 30-50 yards closer, sit down and shut up. If you make another call from your new location you will compromise the setup. This works on the same principle of having a caller setup behind a shooter, getting the gun within range of where the bird will hang up.
    No Shortcuts. No Excuses. No Regrets.
    Bobjr86 wrote: »
    Ok so i hunted florida for my first time yesterday and have to say i was really disappointed.
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