Many turkey hunters prefer to play a waiting game at a good setup. Sometimes, however, you must move out to seek some action. The challenge is to match your strategy with the terrain and conditions.
Some turkey country is not suited to an aggressive trolling approach. An aggressive traditional cutt-and-run hunt on a quarter-section-sized farm would take less than an hour. Then what would you do? And what about open country or early-season hunts, where you can’t move much without being busted? Such conditions call for a moving setup.
The moving setup is a cautious and conservative approach. When terrain or conditions don’t support movement, you should instead conduct a series or circuit of setups, sneaking quietly between each. The low-impact approach is less likely to spook birds.
You might spend a half-hour at some setups to an hour or more at places you like better. Plan your route between setups carefully, taking care to sneak along and not skyline yourself, especially in open country. I usually don’t bother with decoys, preferring instead to go slip stealthily into good spots for quiet sits.
Walk and Call
If you have access to sufficient acreage with good cover, walking and calling works well. Rolling terrain — especially timbered ridge country — is prime, because you can cover lots of territory by calling into side drainages and hollows. Many state and national forests, along with extensive county forests and wildlife management areas, offer plenty of real estate for walk-and-call hunting. A long corridor of river bottom also makes a good walk-and-call theatre.
Walk leisurely and carefully, and select strategic spots from which to call in an attempt to raise a gobble. There’s no magic formula about how often to call or how far apart to stop and call. Let the size of the country and thickness of the cover guide you. The only mistakes you can make are to blow through country too fast and not call often enough.
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The key to walking-and-calling success is selecting strategic calling spots. Only call from a place where you think you could kill a turkey if he answered. If a loudmouth turkey responds, you don’t want to be caught flat footed in the open and diving for cover. You must be ready to drop into position immediately. Conversely, some birds answer from a place you’ll have to maneuver toward to get into better position.
With spread-out, nomadic birds in big country, you must cover ground by going on a marathon. Typical marathon country consists of vast flat, wooded expanses; miles of wide-open space (such as prairie or pasture land); or big hill country with timber and openings.
Because the birds are spread out, you’ll do more moving than when walking and calling. You might call less often. And, with open or big hill country, you’ll use your eyes and binoculars as much as your calls to find birds.
In flat country, plan a route — often along a trail, lane or two-track — and go to work. With birds being spread out, you’ll need to cover ground. When you stop to call, use the same principles as when walking and calling: Sound off only at strategic spots, and be ready for an answer. In heavily wooded hill country, stop at every drainage, and call into it.