Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

The country's best-known hunters and callers are here to answer your questions. Ask them turkey hunting tips, or just chat about their favorite hunts.
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Brian Lovett
 
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Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

Postby Brian Lovett » May 7th, 2012, 4:04 pm

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Our next "At the Roost" guest is well-known hunter and turkey hunting writer Steve Hickoff. Log on May 8 through 14 to chat with Steve about strategies, calling, new gear and other topics. Oh, and if you're a fall hunter, you'll definitely want to join in. Steve is one of the most avid and experienced fall turkey men in the country.
Just write your questions in this thread, and Steve will answer them as soon as possible.

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Gopherlongbeards
 
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Re: Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

Postby Gopherlongbeards » May 7th, 2012, 9:51 pm

Hey Steve,

I have given fall hunting a halfhearted try a time or two in the past, but would really like to get into it more this fall. What are some of your more successful strategies for locating birds in the fall? Can you strike a gobbler as you do in the spring? I realize calling is based on pecking order dynamics during the fall season, but I have a difficult time translating this into an effective strategy for locating and working turkeys. My fall hunting experiences in the past have consisted of me quietly sneaking around the woods making gobbler yelps and some flock talk. So far, the woods have always remained silent: I have yet to get a response from a turkey in the fall.

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Re: Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

Postby Steve_Hickoff » May 8th, 2012, 5:19 pm

Gopherlongbeards wrote:Hey Steve,

I have given fall hunting a halfhearted try a time or two in the past, but would really like to get into it more this fall. What are some of your more successful strategies for locating birds in the fall? Can you strike a gobbler as you do in the spring? I realize calling is based on pecking order dynamics during the fall season, but I have a difficult time translating this into an effective strategy for locating and working turkeys. My fall hunting experiences in the past have consisted of me quietly sneaking around the woods making gobbler yelps and some flock talk. So far, the woods have always remained silent: I have yet to get a response from a turkey in the fall.


Hey Gopherlongbeards. Thanks for checking in. Fall turkeys are often highly talkative right before fly down and right after while regrouping as a flock before moving off together. I like to spend a lot of time in the autumn woods listening at that hour -- while also doing this where I've found fresh scratchings, droppings, tracks and molted feathers. You can call in birds right after fly-down time by making the same calls you hear. For instance, if you hear kee-keeing, do the same. If you hear the three-note raspy gobbler yelp, follow with the same vocalization. In short, call like the fall turkey you want to pull in. The only exception to this is when a brood hen sets up to assembly call her charges with yelps. She's tough to beat. If you can scatter the flock (by foot or with a dog if legal where you hunt), your chances at calling one back are even better. But yes, we've had luck striking fall birds with simple cold calling over the years. Some soft yelps or kee-keeing will often draw a response. Super jakes, those 18-month-old gobblers, are some of my favorites to hunt. They sometimes fight with eachother after fly-down and will sometimes come to fighting purrs. They gobble. They strut. They talk quite a bit. The fall turkeys will teach us plenty by just hanging around them, and like everybody who loves this tradition, I'm still learning. Good luck and keep us posted on how you do . . . --Steve Hickoff

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turkey junky
 
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Re: Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

Postby turkey junky » May 8th, 2012, 10:04 pm

hi mr. hickoff have been enjoying reading your articles for years & im happy to ask u a simple question...

i travel to hunt spring time turkeys a lot each spring & im always looking for greener pastures i have hunted MT,NE,KS,OK,FL,MN,WI all on public land & i know you do your fair share of public land hunting across the U.S. each season & im just wondering wear "I DONT NEED NAMES OF SPECIFIC NATL FOREST OR WMAs WOULD RATHER US NOT MENTION SPECIFIC NAMES" you would say you have hunted that had the best or most productive public land hunts for you over the years meaning wear would you say you have seen & encountered the most turkeys on PUBLIC LAND HUNTS??? "HATE TO BE A PAIN IN THE REAR MR. HICKOFF BUT ALSO TO NARROW IT DOWN HOW ABOUT WE LEAVE OUT ANY STATE OR REGION OF A STATE THAT HOLDS EASTERN SUB SPECIES WILD TURKEY & OSCEOLA & THE STATE OF TEXAS LOL as i live in minnesota near the wisconsin border & we have plenty of EASTERNS to chase around here... & them PUBLIC LAND OSCEOLAS are damn near mute & not as much fun to hunt for me to hunt at least... & TEXAS well not much public land & lots of FEE hunting on ranches not my scene... im a DIY public land guy... ILL HUNT A AREA WITH EASTERN HYBRIDS JUST DONT WANT 2 CHASE PURE STRAIN EASTERNS IF POSSIBLE... IF YOU WANT TO THROW IN YOUR EASTERN SUB SPECIES PUBLIC LAND PICK IM ALL EARS/EYES TO ANY INFO YOU HAVE TO OFFER...

ALSO LETS LEAVE OUT THE BLACK HILLS OF SD/WY LOL AS IVE BEEN TALKING TO WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST IN BOTH STATES & THEY SAY ITS HARD HUNTING AT BEST WITH LOW BIRD NUMBERS HARSH WINTERS & WET SPRINGS THE LAST FEW SEASONS...

hate to be a pain man & feel free to ignore my long winded question if you please...

take care & keep up the great articles & books.... thanks much...

Steve_Hickoff
 
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Re: Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

Postby Steve_Hickoff » May 9th, 2012, 5:37 am

turkey junky wrote:hi mr. hickoff have been enjoying reading your articles for years & im happy to ask u a simple question...

i travel to hunt spring time turkeys a lot each spring & im always looking for greener pastures i have hunted MT,NE,KS,OK,FL,MN,WI all on public land & i know you do your fair share of public land hunting across the U.S. each season & im just wondering wear "I DONT NEED NAMES OF SPECIFIC NATL FOREST OR WMAs WOULD RATHER US NOT MENTION SPECIFIC NAMES" you would say you have hunted that had the best or most productive public land hunts for you over the years meaning wear would you say you have seen & encountered the most turkeys on PUBLIC LAND HUNTS??? "HATE TO BE A PAIN IN THE REAR MR. HICKOFF BUT ALSO TO NARROW IT DOWN HOW ABOUT WE LEAVE OUT ANY STATE OR REGION OF A STATE THAT HOLDS EASTERN SUB SPECIES WILD TURKEY & OSCEOLA & THE STATE OF TEXAS LOL as i live in minnesota near the wisconsin border & we have plenty of EASTERNS to chase around here... & them PUBLIC LAND OSCEOLAS are damn near mute & not as much fun to hunt for me to hunt at least... & TEXAS well not much public land & lots of FEE hunting on ranches not my scene... im a DIY public land guy... ILL HUNT A AREA WITH EASTERN HYBRIDS JUST DONT WANT 2 CHASE PURE STRAIN EASTERNS IF POSSIBLE... IF YOU WANT TO THROW IN YOUR EASTERN SUB SPECIES PUBLIC LAND PICK IM ALL EARS/EYES TO ANY INFO YOU HAVE TO OFFER...

ALSO LETS LEAVE OUT THE BLACK HILLS OF SD/WY LOL AS IVE BEEN TALKING TO WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST IN BOTH STATES & THEY SAY ITS HARD HUNTING AT BEST WITH LOW BIRD NUMBERS HARSH WINTERS & WET SPRINGS THE LAST FEW SEASONS...

hate to be a pain man & feel free to ignore my long winded question if you please...

take care & keep up the great articles & books.... thanks much...


Good to hear from you, turkey junky. Thanks for reading my articles and turkey books.

As one hardcore guy to another, like you I've found a lot of turkeys to hunt in Nebraska and Oklahoma over recent years. My South Dakota and Wyoming hunts have been pretty satisfying overall, so I might reconsider those locations. One approach I tend to use is not to necessarily look for an area with high turkey densities, but maybe those with moderate numbers. Less pressure is the aim here. Finding a landowner who might share their turkeys is another angle I'm sure you've used before. Do you attend the National Wild Turkey Federation's annual convention? Apart from all the cool gear, it's a great place to meet other guys like us. Sometimes those friendships lead to swapping hunts. As for Easterns, I've hunted them all over the eastern half of the U.S. of course and tend to do this on both state land and private land open to landowner permission. Both New York and Vermont have good Eastern numbers and public land. As the West Coast goes, have you ever hunted California? It might sound like an unusual destination but I found plenty of turkeys there on my visit a few years back.

How'd you do on your travels this season?

--Steve Hickoff

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Re: Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

Postby turkey junky » May 9th, 2012, 12:18 pm

thanks much mr. hickoff for replying to my long question... no my father & i are both members of the NWTF but never maid the trip the TN to help start kick off the turkey season the write way with tons of fellow hardcore turkey hunters!!! we travel to roughly 2-6 states a season & so we are on a budget & all extra funds go into the turkey travel gas pot & i DO NOT LIKE TO FLY INFACT I DONT PLAN ON FLYING ANY WEAR ANT TIME SOON UNLESS ITS WARM SUNNY WITH WHITE SANDS & AQUA BLUE WATER i will have to be sedated even then i think!!! lol... we drive every wear we hunt steve we drove to florida a few yrs ago the day my father had his last radiation treatment 42-44 in all the most u can receive!!! drove to OK for opener this season then to kansas to open there season as well... so no i have never hunted california it kinda far for us boys to drive... but we will go someday maybe take a train out there have done that B4 it was beautiful!!!

so after the radiation treatments my father was left with a tracheoscopy to breath & thus he cant walk & dog/stay with turkeys as far as he once did & has to limit the number of hikes he goes on a day so we tend to like to hunt high density bird areas & if we bump 1 bird hopefully we can find another in close proximity with out having pick up shop & drive to another are cuz we bumped that 1 bird who was hang there in that 2ndarey fringe habitat... i do use that tactic for upland game hunting come late season hunts especially for pheasant... but its hard to get a wildlife biologist to recomend any 1 area for top bird numbers let alone 2ndarey habitats... the last 2 biologist i talked 2 NE & WY basicly said we talk to 1,000s of hunters each season & we cant send you all to the same hot spot... lol i choose to hunt late season & late in the afternoon in extremely hard hunted areas & in walk in areas & or areas with low traffic due to like rain & or fallen trees etc. & we will do a little walking to get away from crowds... had some bad encounters this season in OK & KS with limb lifters & guys trying to cut off my slow walking father as he walked to a gobbleing turkey...

mr. hickoff we only hunt private land in our home state of MN in the extreme SE corner of the state in the drift-less region im sure u have been to this region either in WI MN IA or IL??? we hunt private land there as its tradition for us my dad has been hunting turkeys down there since i was born 27 yrs ago so i have to go with it man... other then that we make it a point to harvest birds on public land as we love the challenge & the chance to stretch our legs if we want & not worry about fences & property lines for the most part u know... also we are only a public land osceola away from taking our public land grand slams & our 1st grand slams period!
but we want to do it the DIY public land route... we asked till we were blue in the face in FLORIDA to gain my father permission on private land to hunt & or even to cross the private land to get to a isolated live oak hammock & every time the landowners said yall can either go on down the road to the public land & go across the street & pay 1,000-2,000 for a 3-4 day hunt not our type of hunt... that happend from gulf coast to atlantic coast so i doubt i will ever hunt private land in FL...

as for the black hills region i have been talking to wildlife biologist on both sides of the hills & they are singing the same tune extremely low low bird number like 75% down from 2-3 yrs ago them harsh 200 inch winters & wet cold snowy springs are handing them turkeys a big 1-2 knock out punch similar to extreme SE MT... so i had to cancel my MT & SD hunt as my buddy out in the SD black hills is have a hell of a time even finding a bird to hunt... & i have read a few other storys on-line & even on this web site saying the same thing... so i will just drive to the WY black hills & scout for a day or so & if we see & hear birds we will go buy a tag if not im heading on down to the corn husker state it has always treated us well late season..
also have herd horror storys of tons of hunters flocking to the SD black hills each season so i want to kinda avoid that hole scene as i have seen car loads of hunters while driving through the black hills after other hunts...

as for my father & my seasons thus far we have had a great spring turkey season!!!

went to OK for opener & i killed a nice rio on public land 21 # 1inch needle spurs 7.5 inch beard damn near snow white fan! my dad had a couple chances but no bird he also had a guy shoot a roosted turkey out the tree less then 80yards from him so thats how his OK hunt went... OK was extremely hard hunted & the 1st 3 days i never herd so much gobbleing all day & the last 2-3 days little to no gobbleing but we were in on a double a new friend took on the last day of our hunt!!!

KS i tagged out 1 fat 22-23 # 3/4 spur 7.25 inch beard rio grande
& a mounter 24-25 # 1.25 inch sharp hooks & 9.5 inch beard rio grande
my father got a 24# 1.3/8 inch needle sharp spur 8.5 beard rio grande on opener
all on public land...

MN my dad got a 25# 11inch beard 3/4 spur eastern bird on opener i got to eat tag soup!!!

just got back from wisconsin & we both filled our tags i shot a dandy 2 yr old 22-23# 3/4 spurs 10.75-11 inch beard & my dad got a nice 2 yr old 18-20# 8 inch beard 3/4 spurs

so we have had a great season so far & are planing on heading out west for a merriams road trip on mothers day night plan on scout n wyoming 1st & if no birds hit n a few separate areas of the corn husker state & try & get a few more birds by the feet like u say... lol

i may try & pick ur brain some more mr.hickoff but if not thanks for the info & any more u can offer would be much appreciated & good luck to you the rest of the season i know up in the new england states the season is just kick n off so good luck & wish us the same...

Steve_Hickoff
 
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Re: Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

Postby Steve_Hickoff » May 10th, 2012, 5:15 am

turkey junky wrote:thanks much mr. hickoff for replying to my long question... no my father & i are both members of the NWTF but never maid the trip the TN to help start kick off the turkey season the write way with tons of fellow hardcore turkey hunters!!! we travel to roughly 2-6 states a season & so we are on a budget & all extra funds go into the turkey travel gas pot & i DO NOT LIKE TO FLY INFACT I DONT PLAN ON FLYING ANY WEAR ANT TIME SOON UNLESS ITS WARM SUNNY WITH WHITE SANDS & AQUA BLUE WATER i will have to be sedated even then i think!!! lol... we drive every wear we hunt steve we drove to florida a few yrs ago the day my father had his last radiation treatment 42-44 in all the most u can receive!!! drove to OK for opener this season then to kansas to open there season as well... so no i have never hunted california it kinda far for us boys to drive... but we will go someday maybe take a train out there have done that B4 it was beautiful!!!

so after the radiation treatments my father was left with a tracheoscopy to breath & thus he cant walk & dog/stay with turkeys as far as he once did & has to limit the number of hikes he goes on a day so we tend to like to hunt high density bird areas & if we bump 1 bird hopefully we can find another in close proximity with out having pick up shop & drive to another are cuz we bumped that 1 bird who was hang there in that 2ndarey fringe habitat... i do use that tactic for upland game hunting come late season hunts especially for pheasant... but its hard to get a wildlife biologist to recomend any 1 area for top bird numbers let alone 2ndarey habitats... the last 2 biologist i talked 2 NE & WY basicly said we talk to 1,000s of hunters each season & we cant send you all to the same hot spot... lol i choose to hunt late season & late in the afternoon in extremely hard hunted areas & in walk in areas & or areas with low traffic due to like rain & or fallen trees etc. & we will do a little walking to get away from crowds... had some bad encounters this season in OK & KS with limb lifters & guys trying to cut off my slow walking father as he walked to a gobbleing turkey...

mr. hickoff we only hunt private land in our home state of MN in the extreme SE corner of the state in the drift-less region im sure u have been to this region either in WI MN IA or IL??? we hunt private land there as its tradition for us my dad has been hunting turkeys down there since i was born 27 yrs ago so i have to go with it man... other then that we make it a point to harvest birds on public land as we love the challenge & the chance to stretch our legs if we want & not worry about fences & property lines for the most part u know... also we are only a public land osceola away from taking our public land grand slams & our 1st grand slams period!
but we want to do it the DIY public land route... we asked till we were blue in the face in FLORIDA to gain my father permission on private land to hunt & or even to cross the private land to get to a isolated live oak hammock & every time the landowners said yall can either go on down the road to the public land & go across the street & pay 1,000-2,000 for a 3-4 day hunt not our type of hunt... that happend from gulf coast to atlantic coast so i doubt i will ever hunt private land in FL...

as for the black hills region i have been talking to wildlife biologist on both sides of the hills & they are singing the same tune extremely low low bird number like 75% down from 2-3 yrs ago them harsh 200 inch winters & wet cold snowy springs are handing them turkeys a big 1-2 knock out punch similar to extreme SE MT... so i had to cancel my MT & SD hunt as my buddy out in the SD black hills is have a hell of a time even finding a bird to hunt... & i have read a few other storys on-line & even on this web site saying the same thing... so i will just drive to the WY black hills & scout for a day or so & if we see & hear birds we will go buy a tag if not im heading on down to the corn husker state it has always treated us well late season..
also have herd horror storys of tons of hunters flocking to the SD black hills each season so i want to kinda avoid that hole scene as i have seen car loads of hunters while driving through the black hills after other hunts...

as for my father & my seasons thus far we have had a great spring turkey season!!!

went to OK for opener & i killed a nice rio on public land 21 # 1inch needle spurs 7.5 inch beard damn near snow white fan! my dad had a couple chances but no bird he also had a guy shoot a roosted turkey out the tree less then 80yards from him so thats how his OK hunt went... OK was extremely hard hunted & the 1st 3 days i never herd so much gobbleing all day & the last 2-3 days little to no gobbleing but we were in on a double a new friend took on the last day of our hunt!!!

KS i tagged out 1 fat 22-23 # 3/4 spur 7.25 inch beard rio grande
& a mounter 24-25 # 1.25 inch sharp hooks & 9.5 inch beard rio grande
my father got a 24# 1.3/8 inch needle sharp spur 8.5 beard rio grande on opener
all on public land...

MN my dad got a 25# 11inch beard 3/4 spur eastern bird on opener i got to eat tag soup!!!

just got back from wisconsin & we both filled our tags i shot a dandy 2 yr old 22-23# 3/4 spurs 10.75-11 inch beard & my dad got a nice 2 yr old 18-20# 8 inch beard 3/4 spurs

so we have had a great season so far & are planing on heading out west for a merriams road trip on mothers day night plan on scout n wyoming 1st & if no birds hit n a few separate areas of the corn husker state & try & get a few more birds by the feet like u say... lol

i may try & pick ur brain some more mr.hickoff but if not thanks for the info & any more u can offer would be much appreciated & good luck to you the rest of the season i know up in the new england states the season is just kick n off so good luck & wish us the same...


Thanks for the update. Nice birds. Sounds like you've been on 'em. Yep, we're still at it here . . . Maine (killed one on the opener) and New Hampshire (safety off a couple times, but no kill this week), with Vermont and New York to come soon on my schedule . . . here's hoping you get a few more gobblers by the feet this season (lol). Have a good one . . . --Steve Hickoff

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turkey junky
 
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Re: Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

Postby turkey junky » May 10th, 2012, 9:18 am

cool mr. hickoff hope u have a safe & productive rest of the season knock a few more down & write another great article about it... lol take care

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Re: Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

Postby palongbeard12 » May 11th, 2012, 2:43 pm

Hey Steve, I am an avid turkey hunter and have always been interested in writing. I was wondering if you had any tips on getting started in the outdoor writing industry. Thanks for all the great turkey articles.

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Joined: May 7th, 2012, 3:01 pm

Re: Talk Turkey With Steve Hickoff

Postby Steve_Hickoff » May 11th, 2012, 3:23 pm

palongbeard12 wrote:Hey Steve, I am an avid turkey hunter and have always been interested in writing. I was wondering if you had any tips on getting started in the outdoor writing industry. Thanks for all the great turkey articles.


Hey palongbeard12. Thanks for the kind words and your note. As to your question, start small at first, writing for local and regional markets. The pay may not be good, if anything at all, but the experience is important toward you potentially writing for bigger (better paying) markets. Try to read everything you can in the print magazines and online to understand the best (and worst) of what's out there. Be honest about your own ability as a writer and work hard to improve. Hunt (and fish?) as hard as you write. Diversify. It's important these multi-media days to not only write well, but also edit, shoot photos, make videos, author books and even provide web content directly to sites. Get your education too. Many of my colleagues in the business, including myself, have degrees in journalism and writing. It's important to know the craft and also enjoy it as well. Hope this helps. Best of luck. --Steve Hickoff

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