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How Can I Roost Turkeys in Big Timber?


Steve Stoltz

Using locator calls just before fly-up time can help you pinpoint a gobbler.

In my area of eastern Maine, it’s heavily wooded, and there are not a lot of places to spot birds roosting at sunset. I set up in high-traffic areas, use a blind, stay quiet and call moderately, but 99 percent of the time, I never get any vocalizations back. Any ideas? — John Karst

Roost aggressively. Start about 30 to 40 minutes before sunset — not too early — at a good listening spot near where you’ve encountered turkeys before. High ridges, knolls and ridge tops are ideal because turkeys can hear your locator calls from such spots, and you can hear gobbling. I’ll usually start with a crow call to elicit a shock gobble. If that prompts no response, I might switch to a coyote howler or some fly-up cackles with a box or friction call. If that still doesn’t work, I’ll use an owl-hooter right at dark.

If a bird gobbles, immediately try to get a fix on his location. Cut the distance to him in half, and then try to get him to gobble again. Continue until you can get close enough to pretty much determine which tree or group of trees the turkey is in. If you know the area well, try to determine likely set-up spots for the morning. Then, wait until dark, and quietly slip out of the area. Pay attention to the easiest, quietest route to and from the roost. Some hunters even count their steps out of the woods so they can repeat their route the next morning.

Roosting can be hit or miss, so don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t work right away. Keep at it, and you’ll soon find that aggressive roosting gives you a big heads-up for morning hunts.

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