Is there a better way?

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STEROIDCHICKEN
 
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Re: Is there a better way?

Postby STEROIDCHICKEN » January 22nd, 2014, 1:52 pm

I hope things turn around for you this spring......I guess as long as we are chasing, life is good. Good luck to you.
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shaman
 
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Re: Is there a better way?

Postby shaman » January 23rd, 2014, 1:36 pm

I started writing this a few days ago, and haven't had the time to post it until now. It explains how I've adjusted to hunting on just my 200 acre plot.



I was cogitatin' on this long and hard on the way into work this morning, and I kept coming back to the exchange between JHook Max and Timbrhuntr on the thread on blinds and dekes.

A:"If your goal is to kill turkeys . . ."

Q: "What does this mean?"

Me? I decided a long time ago that I liked the challenge of hunting one plot. A lot of guys hunt multiple states. A lot of fellows hunt more than one plot. However, I see very few folks writing about what happens on one single plot. The answer to a variety of problems a turkey hunter encounters during a season is "Go hunt another plot." Even when my neighbors start getting skunked, their first reaction is to go somewhere else. Everyone says "Shaman, you should get out more." The challenge I have taken makes me ask why and drill down into it to find out.

I, like Timbrhuntr, read all the books, read the mags, and then set out to find my way on my own and found a lot of what was published on the subject did not fully satisfy what I was seeing. I have been experimenting on my own.

One of the cues I had that something was up was an article Brian Lovett wrote a number of years ago about hunting in Kentucky. He said it was hard hunting, but that his party had finally started having success filling their tags when they switched to ambushing the turkeys. I was hunting Kentucky at the same time. Probably the weather conditions were the same. Lovett was complaining how hard it was. It was interesting how we had come to the same conclusions. I knew I was on the right track.

Or take the idea that human contact queers birds. I went into this assuming any bird that saw me was unhuntable for the rest of season. Not true. In a one-on-one situation, I've had the same bird show up to strut in the same place, day after day and failed to close the deal for one reason or the other. In the larger sense, I've hunted freshly plowed fields and seen flocks out in the furrows at one end feeding while the tractor was still plowing at the other. In one instance, I knew the roosting area and saw the birds knocked off the roost by the tractor. By rights, that flock should have been in another part of the county for the rest of season or hiding in a cave.

I've had other cues as well. One fellow on here a while back opined that he would go out in the morning and take the gobblers' temperatures and if it wasn't just right, he'd go home or go somewhere else. My theory is that there are darn few days in any general area where the gobblers are going to be receptive to conventional hunting. The rest of the time, a hunter is going to have to either give up and go elsewhere or employ a tactic like ambushing to get results.

On the few days that gobblers are receptive around my place, it seems anything will bring them in. I've seen them come to just the crunch of leaves. I've watched gobblers out and about, making their rounds. They come up to the head of a hollow and gobble, and move on-- much like a hunter doing a run n' gun. On the other hand, I have seen days and weeks where nothing happens. There are a few gobbles a long way off and the hens flop down in the morning and then you do not hear them again until they come back to roost at night.

On the quiet days, I may go to one of my listening posts and sit with a book, or I may take the opportunity to go driving. It's 10 miles to the nearest town going straight, but I may take the back roads to get my errands done-- the hardware store, the grocery store, etc. One thing seems to be certain. If I'm out and I spy turkeys in a field, I know I can get back to the house and suit up and there will be turkeys out and about on my place in similar circumstances. It is kind of like scouting by proxy.

Where this all gets in the face of conventional wisdom is this:
1) The catechism on making turkeys hinky by exposure to human activity. If what I gather is correct from you guys, my place along with any small plot or small WMA would be just about useless after the Opener due to exposing turkeys to human activity. The truth is the huntability of the gobblers ebbs and flows throughout the season, and it probably not as directly coupled to contact with humans as folks think. I am not saying the catechism is completely wrong, I just think there is more to it.
2) The orthodoxy regarding calling. There may be better callers out there, but even the best will talk about bad days, lousy weeks, unreceptive turkeys, lockjaw, etc. If even the great Brian Lovett has to resort to ambush to get a bird, I doubt I could have done better. My guess is that there are darn few days in a season where the birds actually do respond to calling. Some days, nothing works. Other days anything works.
3) Possibly the biggest heresy I have formulated regards hunting tactics at flydown. I seldom got gobblers to come to me at flydown, so I stopped emphasizing that part of my strategy. Instead, I stay well back from the roost and try to anticipate where the gobblers will be going later in the morning and then I go there and wait. When the turkeys show up, I call. It's funny, but the less I call near the roost, the more successful I have become in calling birds off the roost. That far-off hen giving her tree call seems to be more alluring.


Please understand these are all questions. I still feel like I'm just feeling my way around this. I am simply stating what I have witnessed and what I've done as a result.
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Re: Is there a better way?

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » January 24th, 2014, 12:03 am

I've been following this thread without saying anything, but I can only resist so much :P .
I've learned through years of doing this and having a lot of the same problems that you are having Sha. I would go out and scout the areas that I wanted to hunt and locate birds, only to find them gone come opening day because of all the people scouting and calling before the seasons opened on a lot of the publics, which is what I hunt. After 30 years of trying to figure out what it was I was doing wrong, I concluded it was nothing I was doing, it was what I wasn't doing. Scouting, Woodsmanship and Calling, play a very important parts of being a successful turkey slayer year after year. It's a combo of all three, not just one part of it, that's where the biggest mistake is made, guys spend a lot of time practicing their calling and spend a lot of time scouting, but they don't use their woodsmanship skills to the top of their abillities, and without it your wasting a lot of time sitting there doing nothing, all three have to be performed to perfection!!! How many times have you heard a hunter say that they located a bird and worked him, but he wouldn't come so they moved on him only to find out the next time he gobbled he was back where they first set up on him? Most times the hunters say well turkeys are turkeys you can't make them do what they don't want to do. That's the best excuse for failing there is!!! Do what you've always done Sha, do your scouting and your homework on where those birds are and where they like to go, but most important is when the birds are there, your missing that part of your scouting.
Calling, guys say you should switch calls during different parts of the season, no need to. If that call brought a bird to the gun the first week it will continue to bring birds to the gun the rest of the season, a huge mistake is swithing from a call that brings birds to the gun to one that doesn't. That old say that you need a few different calls with you because you never know what's going ti trip his trigger that day, BS!! That's an old call builders story to sell more calls, it is somewhat true, because every call don't bring a bird to the gun, they just stand there and answer you, but won't take one step in your direction, that's the calls fault, not yours. Learn what calls the bird are doing during that time of the day, and try everyone of them, no matter what call it is, before you ever think of moving to a new spot, unless you know for sure that the birds are in a certain area at that time of the day!! Without doing your scouting you don't know that. Again it goes back to using all three parts of your hunting abillities to the max!.
Woodsmmanship, knowing every part of your hunting area is a must. Knowing how to move on birds without being seen, and where to set up on birds that give you the best advantage is very important, bad setups cost you more birds than not. Knowing when the birds are there and how to get in on them without busting them will put more birds over your shoulder, year after year.
Everbody gets lucky, and walks in and plops down, hits a call, and a red hot two year old comes running in with his tail on fire screaming all the way in. It's the old birds that have been hunted most of the season that takes the most skill to shoot, season after season. If you forget to use all three parts of what's needed to kill a bird to the best of your abillity it will make a long tough season. I keep a log book of what I did that hunt, and looking back through it on what I did on days I was successful, it explains what I didn't do on days that I wasn't, and you will soon realies it was because I didn't do something that I did on successful days :shock: .
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Re: Is there a better way?

Postby shaman » January 24th, 2014, 10:30 am

but most important is when the birds are there, your missing that part of your scouting.


I'm not sure what you are saying. Maybe that's my problem-- I don't understand.

In regards to calls, I've grown to think more like what you've said. That is, I'm sticking with what works. I was going through a complete change-out nearly every day up until recent years. Last year, I stuck with one set and only changed out a couple that stopped functioning. Generally, I feel less is more in my situation. I am a conservative caller that likes to work myself into the flow and only occasionally deliberately stand out. Being on the same plot all season, I don't want to tip my hand too much. I also have a few neighbors that really like to crank it. I hear a lot of calling from that side of the fence, but I seldom here shooting.

Most years, I go where I'm pretty sure I know where birds are going to be. That's one of the good parts of being there for over a decade-- you find you are anticipating their moves. Ambushing, at least in this form, is just a matter of anticipation.

Now, here's another heresy to throw at you: The few times I have tied into a mature gobbler, he's come running to me as fast as any jake. I do not claim to be all THAT great a caller. However, what I believe is that when they are receptive, a turkey will fall for a lot, no matter what their age.
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Re: Is there a better way?

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » January 24th, 2014, 1:56 pm

That's true Sha, when a bird is receptive you can call him in on the run with just about any thing, you could use a clay pidgin and a stick to call him in, if and I repete IF you send him the right calls. I've watched guys that have a bird coming in quick and straight to them throught a fairly open terrain that they can see that bird coming in from a 100 yards off, and all they do is yelp at that bird over and over. That bird will lock up solid at about 70 yards out and not take one step farther in their direction and as that bird stands his ground looking, they start getting louder on their call and a faster series of calls, getting PO'd because that bird locked up and gobbling back at them. That Tom will stand there looking for a while then turn and go back where he came from. That's what I mean when I say use the right call, not a phyical call, but the turkey voice call.
What I ment when I said, that's most important is when the birds are there, meaning are the birds on a certain ridge at 9-10am and then in an open field at 12-1pm, and then come back up the other side of the hollow on a different ridge from 3-5pm? Knowing what time the birds are in a certain area and where they are in that area on the day that the birds are on your property is very important. Those birds are there for a reason and if you know when they are there and set up in that area at those times, you've increased your odds dramadically. A lot of it has to do with the weather temps, birds perfer a certain temp, like if your hunting ridges, a bird will roost half way up a ridge and if the temps are cool at night they flydown and go up to the top where the temps are warmer. Once the temps get to hot, say on a hot muggy night the birds will flydown and go towards the bottom where the temps are cooler and spend the day down there, or on a cloudy day they may use the sides of the ridge not going up or down. On high pressured bird those areas become very small and the birds don't talk much because it draws every preditor in on them, human or animal preditor, so they only gobble if they are alone and they gobble very little and softly.
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Re: Is there a better way?

Postby shaman » January 25th, 2014, 8:04 am

Now that is either the biggest hunk of malarkey or the single greatest gem of turkey lore I've picked up on this august forum in 6 years. I can't say it is true or not, but I do intend to test it this season and find out. Thank you. I have been looking for advice like that for 30 years-- the part about where they roost, that is. Frankly, I have been trying to make sense of where and why my birds roost, and I have not seen pattern. I have seen them roost in the same trees in cold windy weather and hot muggy. I have seen up on top when it fixing to rain or down low or midway up. However, I will take your advice and run with it this year and see what I can see.

As to the calling part or your response, I quite agree. My calling is far from what I'd call expert, so I try not to make calls I regret later. What I like to do is do like the hens do. Most hens, most days, do not broadcast the same call from the same spot over and over for any great length of time, so I try to match what I hear, throwing in a little excited stuff in-between. When I do get a gob hooked, I go silent or act as if I did not hear him, and go to clucking and purring or scratching in the leaves. The hens that come up directly around me are usually on the move, unless they are at their favorite milling spot near the Honey Hole, or dusting in one of the barns. In either event, their calls go in and out of audibility due to the folds of the land. I may stop hearing a flock and think they have wandered off, only to find they've walked into a low spot and come back up. So it is perfectly natural for a gobbler to hear that silence, and it means he needs to step up his gait and come see where they have gone.

One other note regarding the clay bird and the nail trick. It is true, and furthermore, I don't know about you, but I have heard hens that sound like that. I used to get soooooo peeved the first few years I was on the place. I new I had guys occasionally poaching the place, and I'd hear some stupid calls and I'd go out and. . . dang, I just scared a flock of hens! Eventually I learned that even the goofiest sounding call I was hearing was actually some hen. I was holed up in one of my deer blinds one noontime. I was eating my liver and crackers and yelping in between. I'd come out there to catch a bird I'd seen strutting every day. There was a hen that came up behind the shack. I swear her cluck sounded like someone using a nail on an old glass Clorox jug-- fakiest sound I'd ever heard. I opened up the back window just a crack, and sure enough 3 feet behind the blind were three hens feeding, and one was making this sound. I went to back to eating my lunch and a few minutes later, this gobbler came walking out and I took him out the front window.
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Re: Is there a better way?

Postby icdedturkes » January 25th, 2014, 9:15 am

shaman wrote: When I do get a gob hooked, I go silent or act as if I did not hear him, and go to clucking and purring or scratching in the leaves.

I truly hate to comment on how to call to a gobbler because every situation is so different and until your back is against a tree you should really have no preconceived notions on how to call to a specific gobbler.. A quite a bit I go silent when I feel the hook has been set.. But alot of times going silent can lose the interest of the gobbler.. You gave the gobbler something he wanted to hear and all of a sudden silence.. What does that convey to the gobbler.. IMO setup dictates a gobbler in gun range or one that hangs up, if you have proper set up you can yelp and cut a pile of gobblers up to the gun..


shaman wrote:I swear her cluck sounded like someone using a nail on an old glass Clorox jug-- fakiest sound I'd ever heard.


Its funny you say this, most have never heard this.. It is pretty common in merriam country. The first time I heard it I was in tight on a roost with 40-50 hens.. It sounded as if there were 50 guys with tack hammers banging on sheets of aluminum as fast as possible.. It was so high pitched it hurt the ear..

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Re: Is there a better way?

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » January 25th, 2014, 11:40 am

Weather effects birds activity much more than we'd believe, they live in it we don't, so it's harder for us to understand. Take gobbling for instance. We blame the hunting pressure for the reason birds aren't gobbling much, or if birds gobble on the roost and clam up as soon as they hit the ground, dang hunting pressure around here is so bad that the birds won't gobble on the ground. Yeah well OK, so why are the birds quiet for a few days and then explode with a day of gobbling non stop all day and then the next day they won't gobble at all even though it's a nice brite sunny cool morning? Air temps effect the birds movements, the Dew Points effects the birds vocabulary. If you have a low dew point in the morning with a slowly rising dew point, the birds will gobble on the roost and on the ground until the dew point reaches a certain level, then they shut up until it starts to fall. A slowly falling dew point is like a match to a gas leak, they will gobble all day long, no matter how many guys are in the woods. It effects the hens just the same, we may be set up on a flock one day and the hens on the roost are talking up a storm, they hit the ground and are talking periodically through out the day, but the next day we sneak in and set up on them again and we only hear one hen sound off a couple of soft yelps and then nothing, but yet 15 birds fly off the roost, what's going on? That's why we can hunt one area and the birds aren't saying much, but we more to a different hunting place and the birds are talking up a storm, so we hunt that area for a day or two and we don't hear another bird. Dang a little hunting pressure on them and they shut right up, yeah right! It can be as simple and a little elevation change may effect the dew points, that's why you may hear a bird on the neighboring propery gobble, but nothing on yours? The same with birds in the fall, why are the gobblers gobbling up a storm like it was a spring morning? If we pay closer attention to thing that matter to birds, it will help us understand why birds do things, and it will effect the way we should be hunting or calling that day? As humans we don't pay that much attention to it, but for game that has to live out in it, it's a big difference.
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Re: Is there a better way?

Postby shaman » January 26th, 2014, 7:05 am

For those of y'all reading this, I wanted to include a dewpoint calculator.

http://dpcalc.org/

How you get the birds to use it is what I want to know. Actually it is fairly simple: Dewpoint goes up if either temperature or humidity rise and goes down if temperature or humidity do likewise. In the morning, the normal course of affairs is for the sun to come up and the dew point to rise with the temperature. So what you're describing is an atypical circumstance-- I can believe it would only happen a few times in a season.

Altitude I can see as well, but. . . well, you would have to see us. Despite it being exceedingly hilly there is only is less than 200 feet difference in altitude in a mile's traveling around here. I think I figured there was 193 feet from the bottoms to up were we live on top of the ridge. It is all pretty much knife-edge ridges with ravines between. Your average hollow is maybe 90 feet, bottom to top. Now, I can see dewpoint being a factor, and I know altitude can change dewpoint, otherwise we would not get ground fog in the bottoms. What I'm wondering is if the turkeys are going to change based on less than 100 foot altitude change. I'm not disagreeing, I'm just asking. I've been down in the bottoms in the mornings, and it is definitely clamier down there.

In regards to calling, and going quiet: I called my first bird in at flydown, yelping and such all the in. It took me the better part of an hour for him to make his way around the top of the ridge to me. He'd hang up, and I'd keep calling. At the time, I thought it was great, and it had my heart pounding. However, in retrospect, I now know I could have had it over and done a lot sooner if I had just gone quiet for a while. As he got closer, I realized he was strutting back and forth, trying to get me to come to him.

This idea of gobbling to close the deal intrigues me. That was a tactic I used at the dawn of my turkey career, but all it got me at the time was grief. A couple of times I realized was being hunted. I occasionally gobble with my box call, but I'm open to ideas. Nowadays, I'd feel safe gobbling after The Opener. What I've been using instead is either a deep gobbler cluck or a spitting. What kind of gobble call works for you all?
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Re: Is there a better way?

Postby timbrhuntr » January 26th, 2014, 10:45 am

Man you guys must be really getting cabin fever.

I don't know about your dew points and all the other stuff but I do know I hate it when it is really windy.

I like to read some of the stuff guys say and then test it for a season. As far as the going quiet or call a lot stuff I agree with giving them what they want.I have tried the go quiet and had it not work. I have also tried the give it to them hot and heavy and at times it has not worked either.I find now usually when I am hunting I can get a read on what that bird likes and try to stick with it and they usually come in. As far as the gobble calls one season I used it on a regular basis and never had one bird come in to it as far as know . I often hear about these gobbler and jake clucks and yelps that people use to call in male birds but I'll be danged if I can tell the difference myself. I have heard some calling in a group to each other with yelps and clucks in the fall thinking they were all hens but when I saw them they were a group of toms and jakes. Likewise I heard a bird calling one morning and it seemed to be by itself and it had deeper slower yelps like I hear a tom makes so I called to it and when it finally got to where I could see it it was a big old hen ! In fact one year I was calling to a group of birds and one kept making this awful sounding gobble and I figured it was a jake. Then these two hens walked out at 35 yards and I was blown away when one of them stretched out its neck and let out this attempted gobble.The other thing about carrying all these calls and using different ones and switching calls etc. I bought into this when I first started and bought a bunch of different calls. I found after a while I stopped carrying most of them. I now carry one box and one pot and a few mouth calls. I have found that every year one of the mouth calls seems to be of a sound they want and I will basically use that call from Florida to NM and it seems to work on birds everywhere I hunt. As far as elevation I have hunted from 11,000 feet in New Mexico to 600 feet in Kansas and Ontario and them birds all act like turkeys do everywhere else.

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