Three Tips For Killing More Public Land Turkeys
By Clint Casper
With the vast amount of public land available to turkey hunters these days and numerous states with relatively cheap, over-the-counter tags, it’s hard to beat a turkey hunting trip outside of your home state. Nothing is better than watching the sun come up in a “foreign” state, while hearing gobbles thunder through the trees in the distance! I’ve come up with three tips to ensure you more success on your next public land turkey chasing adventure.
Tip No. 1: Get Away from the Crowds
Hunting on public land can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be frustrating, especially if you cannot get away from other hunters. Hunting pressure will certainly alter what turkeys do each day, so finding ground that isn’t pounded daily is very important. I like to look for smaller chunks of land on my onX app that are located in out-of-the-way spots, or public areas that are hard to access. Larger chunks seem to draw bigger crowds, which I’m assuming is because people correlate big properties with big flocks of birds. This is obviously not always true. Small land holdings can be easily overlooked and hold a great number of birds. (Some of my best Kansas spots are less than 80 acres!) Or have just that one lonely tom that will run to the call.
Hard to get to spots also are great places to hunt because most people do not want to take the extra effort to get to these places. Spots where water is present and a raft, waders or boat is needed in my experiences are dynamite and usually rarely hunted. Also look for the places that don’t have a big parking lot and have an elevation change right off the bat. Lots of people don’t want to park on the side of the road and then make a big climb in and out to get way back in. These are the instances where you can separate yourself from people and hunt unpressured birds.
Tip No. 2: Less Calling, More Patience
When hunting on public ground for turkeys, it’s important to keep in mind how most other hunters are probably working these spots. Typically, most hunters will walk around constantly calling hoping to strike up, or shock gobble a tom into answering them. In my opinion being patient and rarely calling are the keys to success because you will sound like a REAL turkey.
Turkeys don’t call nearly as much when pressured, so sitting in a good spot where you can see a lot of ground and softly calling from time to time while staying put, will yield better results than running and gunning all over the place, because you’ll resemble what the turkeys actually sound like. Call enough to let them know you’re around and then let curiosity kill the bird! Numerous times I’ve had mature birds come in completely silent to my calls on public ground, because of the pressure that they’ve experienced. This is where sitting in a spot longer and being patient pays off big time because you’ll give these wary birds the time they need to come check you out.
Tip No. 3: Hunt All Day
A lot of states allow all day turkey hunting or have portions of the season dedicated to all day hunting. Take advantage of this opportunity! I cannot express in words how beneficial all day hunting can be and for numerous reasons. The most obvious, in my opinion, is because normally after mid-morning if a Tom was henned up off the roost he is now looking for his next girlfriend. This presents the hunter with a golden window of opportunity to get this bird fired up fast and coming in on a string.
Another reason I love to hunt later in the day or all day is because most hunters are bored or tired by mid-morning and have decided to go eat breakfast. Birds will become accustomed to hunters leaving the woods and will pattern their schedules around this pressure. Numerous times I’ve killed fired up birds later in the day that never gobbled all morning because of the hunting pressure that was present. This was evident to me because as I watched hunters leave at mid-morning I experienced more and more birds becoming comfortable again and thus gobbling and talking.
I hope these tips and tactics help you on your next public land turkey hunting adventure. Turkey hunting on public land is hard to beat, especially when they’re gobbling their heads off, but sometimes you don’t have that luxury and have to think outside of the box. I’m positive these three tactics will not only give you more confidence in the field, but put more filled tags inside your favorite camo pants pocket. Good luck!