Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

charlie elk
 
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Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

Postby charlie elk » December 11th, 2010, 10:25 am

Turkeytracks in his post "hows part 2 comin?" asked for some snow hunting tactics.  I thought a separate thread might bring more hunters into the discussion. Hunting turkeys in the snow is a new pass time so all the brain storming we can do will help us all.

Some of my observations:

The flocks are usually very large in my area containing multiple family groups as a result when a break up is attempted groups of turkeys fly off in different directions; apparently, many times these are family groups breaking away from the main flock.  Since they are a family group and staying together the traditional assembly calls are not very effective.  I have found some success moving closer to birds that flew away, setup and use aggressive yelps and clucks; some feeding purrs if the turkeys were feeding at time of flush.

Rather than setting up in the woods bordering a field it is better to set up in the open snow covered field while wearing good snow camo. Turkeys come to the call better sometimes even racing each other to the call source.  The problem here of course is bringing your shotgun into play with all those eyes staring right at you. Very exciting.  Last year in  a post Scott mentioned using a white sheet as a blind.  I plan to try that.

On cold mornings the turkeys stay on roost until late morning, unlike in the spring they do not seem to be in a hurry to fly down. 

Due to visibility being very good I use good optics to glass tree lines in order to pick out flocks. Even use my 80 X spotting scope to glass across the valley to see turkeys feeding on the opposite hillside. Then plan the best approach to get the best scatter possible.

Use snowshoes even if the snow is only a few inches.  They make walking much easier and are usually quieter than the boot crunching and squeaking  the snow. Also at setup a snowshoe makes a good table to set your calls on. 

Good hunting and please share any tips.

Is Wisconsin the only state with a snowbird season?  I think it is; putting WI turkey hunters on the cutting edge of snow tactic development.
Anyone know where a snow camo turkey vest can be purchased?

 


 
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

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turkeytracks
 
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RE: Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

Postby turkeytracks » December 20th, 2010, 3:27 am

using a white sheet is a good idea. i never thought of that before. ill make sure to try that. otherwise i hunt them like deer, setting up on a food source before they get there and when they do get there ill be ready. i also hunt them like fall turkeys too but im less sucessful in the winter using htat tactic.

i think if you just cut up white sheet or clothe and sew it onto the turkey vest you can make your own snow camo???
Alex

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mark hay
 
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RE: Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

Postby mark hay » December 21st, 2010, 11:54 am

Very intersesting to say the least . I have hunted in some snow , but only twice . Once in spring and then once during the '09 fall season . Unsuccessful both times . Though that day during the fall I did encounter a huge flock of gobblers on the roost and had a hen come in to about 20 yards ,,,but I let her go on.
 
 Another tip for snow camo is one of those TOUGH  paper set of coveralls . Mine were given to me , but I wouldn't think they would be too expensive if you had to purchase them . They do cut the wind very good and are plenty big ,enabling the user to wear many layers under the white.
 
 

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WillowRidgeCalls
 
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RE: Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

Postby WillowRidgeCalls » December 21st, 2010, 6:25 pm

Keep an eye out for when a place puts out there end of the year sale or if you have an old one. A can of white spray paint covers enough and if the paint cracks or peals a little so be it.
WillowRidgeCalls
WI Youth & LTH Mentor
Dodge Co. NWTF
Scott

charlie elk
 
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RE: Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

Postby charlie elk » December 28th, 2010, 10:10 am

Winter turkeys can be very wide ranging; hitting an area, feeding heavily and then moving to the next.  The snow has crusted over in the fields making it hard for them to scratch to ground for waste grain.  Found a good flock feeding on staghorn sumac berries yesterday.  They would fly up hitting the tops of the sumac knocking the berries to the ground, land, and fight over them.  I flushed the flock and called some back using aggressive purrs, feeding purrs, clucks and lost yelps. 
Given the deep snow the ones that came back flew in and landed in the trees above me.  It is legal to roost shoot turkeys in WI but I have trouble shooting any turkey out of a tree.  Am I wrong about that?
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

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Treerooster
 
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RE: Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

Postby Treerooster » December 28th, 2010, 3:10 pm

ORIGINAL: charlie elk

Winter turkeys can be very wide ranging; hitting an area, feeding heavily and then moving to the next.  The snow has crusted over in the fields making it hard for them to scratch to ground for waste grain.  Found a good flock feeding on staghorn sumac berries yesterday.  They would fly up hitting the tops of the sumac knocking the berries to the ground, land, and fight over them.  I flushed the flock and called some back using aggressive purrs, feeding purrs, clucks and lost yelps. 
Given the deep snow the ones that came back flew in and landed in the trees above me.  It is legal to roost shoot turkeys in WI but I have trouble shooting any turkey out of a tree.  Am I wrong about that?



It is legal in Wis to shoot a turkey in a tree. IMO it shouldn't be though. Legal shooting time in Wis for fall turkey is 20 minutes AFTER sunset. Thats too late.

As for your question...define roosted turkey. Just because a turkey flies up into a tree does that mean he is roosted? For me a turkey is on the roost when it flies into a tree some time around sunset and stays in that tree, or one close by as they will switch trees now & then, until about sunrise. At which time the turkey will fly down and begin his/her day.

For me a turkey that comes to a call is fair game whether it is in a tree or on the ground.


I think another ethics question for you might be "Should I still be hunting/disturbing turkeys that are having a hard time finding food in such difficult conditions?". According to your description above, they are having a difficult time in the frozen over snow and even fighting over food. The days are at thier shortest, temps are very cold and winter is just beginning.

I don't really know the conditions because I ain't there. But thats the ethics question that popped into my mind when I read your post.

charlie elk
 
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RE: Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

Postby charlie elk » December 29th, 2010, 2:48 am

I think another ethics question for you might be "Should I still be hunting/disturbing turkeys that are having a hard time finding food in such difficult conditions?"

Turkeys fight all the time in every season.
The turkeys are having a difficult time feeding on waste grain in the snow covered farm fields.  They are not having difficulty finding and feeding on the mast (like the sumac berries, wild grapes, box elder seeds etc.) These are abundantly scattered throughout the woods so rather than easily finding turkeys in large flocks in the fields I am finding small family groups scattered throughout the woods.  Human travel is very difficult finding them is a challenge in itself. The cold temps make staying with a setup more difficult and the calls don't seem to work as well.  Cold calling has a whole new meaning. Winter turkeys spot and hear a hunter coming from a very long way off much more easily than in early fall when jump shooting opportunities abound. (I don't take those)

I thought about the ethic point you bring up a lot; couldn't figure the answer without some experience with winter turkeys.  Initially when the late season was established this was a concern and discussed at length during WDNR meetings. After years of meetings and discussions a legal season was started last year.

After experiencing winter turkey hunting in the manner I practice - there is not a more difficult way to bag a turkey; any turkey.  A friend who does it the same way thinks the only other hunt more challenging is mountain goat.

Winter turkeys stay on roost much longer - at times until noon depending on weather but approaching them to get a shot I think is near impossible.  They also roost earlier in the afternoon and if a hunter has a flock roosting in the same trees he could ambush them at their roost.  Even though legal I have a problem with this tactic. I do not know how to define a roosted turkey so my solution is never shoot a turkey from a tree no matter the timing of the season.

Legal shooting time in Wis for fall turkey is 20 minutes AFTER sunset. Thats too late.

I agree and I stop hunting at least a half hour before sunset. Legal does not always equal ethical.
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

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Treerooster
 
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RE: Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

Postby Treerooster » December 29th, 2010, 3:28 am

Fair enough Charlie.

Although I don't know you I really don't think you are an unethical hunter, based on your post I've read on here.

I do question the WDNR for having such a late season. Especially in the north where turkeys are on the fringe of their range. There has been reports of winter die offs in turkey the last 2 years around where I hunt. The rain then extreme cold afterward is what caused it I am told, perhaps like the weather is about to hit.

I must claim ignorance on this as I am not in Wis during the winter months. I do know that there has been a drastic decrease in the number of turkeys I see in both the spring and fall in the area I hunt. I hunt public land in the NW part of zone 4 and since the zones have been consolidated and the last 2 winters have been tough, the quality of my turkey hunting has gone way down. Fewrer turkeys and way more hunters.

charlie elk
 
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RE: Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

Postby charlie elk » December 30th, 2010, 5:46 am

I really don't think you are an unethical hunter, based on your post I've read on here.

Didn't assume you thought that.  I love to discuss hunting ethics although I have been wondering if those type of discussions should be referred to as "fair chase" rather than ethics.  Definitions of fair chase can have more to do with a hunter's abilities and skill level as practiced in the legal framework.

Your point that any turkey called in is a fair turkey even if in a tree had me philosophizing while setup yesterday on the definition of a roosted turkey. When ----
A lone bird of the year flew into the trees behind me answering my calls after 20 min it flew down landing on some sumac branches on my strong side about 5 feet off the ground, 20 yards away and began feeding.  Clearly I thought not a roosted turkey.


Image
A typical winter woodland setup using snowshoes as seat and back rest.

Image
This bird never saw me.

Image
This is a picture showing turkey feeding sign on top of my tracks of last week.

Image

Image

Image
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

charlie elk
 
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RE: Snowbird Tactics and Strategies

Postby charlie elk » December 30th, 2010, 6:24 am

do question the WDNR for having such a late season. Especially in the north where turkeys are on the fringe of their range. hit.

The late season is a temporary 2 year experiment expiring 12/31/10.  Pending review of the 2 yr kill stats it may be made permanent in 2011.


There has been reports of winter die offs in turkey the last 2 years around where I hunt. The rain then extreme cold afterward is what caused it I am told, perhaps like the weather is about to hit.
I must claim ignorance on this as I am not in Wis during the winter months.

This type of weather can be deadly on all wildlife especially if the land's carrying capacity is exceeded.  If this did in fact happen that would be an indication there were too many turkeys in the area prior to the bad weather.  The solution would have been a more aggressive balanced harvest prior to the die off in order to minimize it.  When a wildlife population exceeds its habitat nature over corrects. There was no late winter turkey in 2008 only in 09 and 10.

I do know that there has been a drastic decrease in the number of turkeys I see in both the spring and fall in the area I hunt. I hunt public land in the NW part of zone 4 and since the zones have been consolidated and the last 2 winters have been tough, the quality of my turkey hunting has gone way down. Fewer turkeys and way more hunters.

Due to the zone consolidations NW zone 4 has experienced a huge increase in spring hunters.  I think this is because of the metro areas located there on both sides of the river, a compressed 5 day season causing the high number of hunters to hunt closer to home.  Several hunters urged the WDNR to place the southern third of 4 into zone 1 instead.  The high turkey population in the southern part of zone 4 distorts the numbers in the north giving the wrong impression there are a lot of turkeys; there is, but they are concentrated in the south end of zone 4.  Hunting pressure in southern 4 has decreased since the zone consolidation.

Fall hunting is beneficial in helping balance the flocks if the hunters do not focus on shooting only adult birds.  Birds of the year are the most likely to die during hard winters so biologically it is desirable to keep the adult birds for nesting in the spring. 
Traditional fall hunting tactics are geared towards bird of the year harvests.
later,
charlie
If you agree with me call it fact; if you disagree - call it my opinion.
After all - we are talking turkey.

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