Some tactics to try when hunting turkey

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By Shelton Young

Turkey season so far has been less than productive. Confounding or frustrating would be good choices in describing my efforts!
I’m hearing birds but they’re either hanging up or just plain ignoring my efforts. Can’t quite figure out what I’m doing wrong, if anything? It just might be the birds aren’t in the mood!
Or, it could be the technique I’m using.
Yes, there are differing “techniques” used in turkey hunting.
When I was younger I would “run and gun.” I’d go out, throw down some crow calls to get the birds gobbling then plan my assault. This means pin-pointing the birds general location, running over in hopes of intercepting the turkey and waiting.
Then we found out about decoys. Remember, I’ve been hunting a long time… a very long time. Anyway, with decoys I/we would sorta “wait and wonder.”
We’d usually try to roost a bird - find out where they slept for the night! Then we’d go back early the next day, set out decoy(s) and wait for the turkeys to fly down. It was then a matter of calling and wondering if we could get an old gobbler to do something unnatural to him, a going out to a fake hen. It’s “natural” for hens to go to gobblers, not for gobblers to go to hens!
Anyway, after a while it seemed the “wait and wonder” technique worked later in the morning. The reason? Well my best guess is that usually, right when a gobbler flies down, he encounters real hens that’ll come to him like they’re supposed to and get his business of making more turkeys done. After being bred the hens go off to do nesting stuff and have no more reproductive interest that day.
But then the old gobbler remembers hearing a hen - your hen – calling earlier and decides to check it out. He lets out a gobble just to find out if she/you are still around. Or, he’ll go silent and sneak over your way.
So, you’re sitting there and a turkey just appears!
The last technique is the one I use. It’s kinda the “hobble and hope” method! I can hear a turkey gobble but can’t pick out the direction it’s coming from. You need two good ears to tell a sounds direction. I only have one. It’s an inconvenience, but makes a dandy excuse for not getting a bird! Sometimes I just turn in circles, pick the direction where the gobble maybe seemed the loudest, and hobble off in that direction hoping I made the right decision on where the bird was. I seldom do, so I hobble back to my blind, sit down in my comfortable chair, pour myself a cup of coffee, break out my Kindle and wait on my bird.
Hey, old guys gotta hunt too!
Lately it’s been hunt, hunt, hunt, fish then hunt some more.
The fishing break came Sunday as the Mid-KY Bass Anglers visited Springfield Reservoir for an 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. tournament.
Now you might think Sunday was a beautiful day. A bit windy, but nice!
From our perspective it was quite different. First off, while we started fishing at 8 a.m., we had a lot of getting ready to take care of i.e. unloading boats, paying fees, getting equipment ready, etc. So we really start about 7:15 a.m. And that doesn’t count “getting there.”
So for an 8 a.m. tournament you get up at 5 or 6 a.m., depending on how far ya gotta drive to get there.
Let’s just say that early Sunday, it was cold.
Couple that with a stiff wind and it got colder! Gloves, heavy coats, bibs and a toboggan was pretty much standard gear. Keeping a boat positioned was a real task. Generally going upwind on a bank, then letting it blow you down the bank while you cast was the standard. Plus, it saved battery power!
We caught bass on a number of lures but plastics played a prominent role. John and I took our fish on lizards and jigs. Some used tubes and a few used spinnerbaits.
When it came to the weigh-in we had some problems with the scales. They were giving some real screwy weights. What to do? Stacy Benningfield had a set of hand scales so we used them. They may not have been 100 percent accurate but they were consistent for everyone!
Anyway, the team of Stacy Benningfield and Joe Hickey, who fished a 100-yard stretch of shoreline 95 percent of the time, took first place with a bag of 9 pounds, 2 ounces. They also took big fish with a 3 pound, 1 ounce bass.
In second, with a bag of 7 pounds, 14 ounces was the team of Jason Spalding and Gary Wilkerson.
Danny Marcum and Jason Brady had a bag of 6-pounds 9-ounces to take third place.
With everyone catching bass, including me and John, I would say it was a good day. But it was still cold and windy!
Remember what I said about getting there and getting ready to fish a local tournament? Our next one is at Barren River on May 5. We launch at 7 a.m., Lebanon time, from the state park ramp. Weigh-in is at 3 p.m.
Guess that’s it for now. Get out, enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, stay safe and I’ll see ya next week!