What’s a good way to hunt pressured gobblers? By pressured, I mean gobblers that don’t say anything on the roost or when they fly down. — Bo
It’s sometimes difficult to define pressure and its effects on turkeys. After all, turkeys are a prey species and are pressured every day by sharp-toothed critters that want to eat them. However, let’s agree that turkeys react and adjust to human hunting pressure.
Some hunters talk about turkeys becoming call-shy. That’s nonsense. If turkeys were call-shy, there would be far fewer turkeys born every spring. The birds are vocal by nature and need to communicate with their feathered brethren.
Pressured birds — or henned-up turkeys, or just obstinate gobblers — often get silent. That obviously makes hunting tough. If you try walking and calling, you’ll end up bumping far more birds than you strike, which will make hunting even more difficult.
The best way to hunt silent, pressured gobblers is to scout like a madman. Get a visual on birds in the evening. Try to roost turkeys whenever you can. Locate tracks, scratching, dust bowls, roost areas and any other type of sign. Then put the clues together, and get an idea of where turkeys like to roost, feed and loaf, and how they use the land to travel between those areas.
When you’ve pinpointed some good locations, set up at one and vow to be patient. Don’t be afraid to call. After all, a pressured turkey is still a turkey. He might come in silent, but that’s OK, too.
When you’re working a pressured bird, gauge his mood, and adjust your calling accordingly. If the bird is just gobbling now and then, don’t “firehose” him with long strings of aggressive yelping and cutting. Play is soft and coy, like a disinterested hen just feeding along.
Or try this tactic: If you strike a bird, use your knowledge of the landscape to get as tight as possible with him. There’s a huge difference in working a turkey from 60 yards compared to working one from 160. Caveat: Be ultra-careful, as bumping an already pressured turkey will make him, well, more pressured.
Remember this above all: Pressured turkeys don’t disappear or go nocturnal. They still roost in trees. Hens still feed, lay eggs and nest. Gobblers still try to get with hens. And they leave evidence where they travel. Gather all the knowledge you can about your local pressured turkeys, and then just go turkey hunting.