Turkey Hunting Fresno CA
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Branching Out For Timber Turkeys
When most of us think of turkey hunting, we picture green fields and forest edges alive with songbirds and new leaves. This, after all, is where we generally set up our ambushes. It's where the classic game is played.
But there are times when turkeys don't want to play the classic game - at least not out in the open. You might encounter them while running and gunning through the woods to get to another field. You might have set up in the timber intentionally to ambush a tom as he passes through when retreating from a field. Regardless of the scenario, the fundamentals of turkey hunting -- the calling, hiding, and shot set up -- remain the same. But in the woods you also need to be aware of a few subtle nuances that can spell the difference between trophy and regret.
The Right Terrain
The open woods also allow more sunlight in, which promotes a wealth of ground cover. This translates into a veritable buffet for any wild turkey that's passing through. Studies have shown that these adaptable birds will chow down on an impressive variety of foods. In fact, I was recently e-mailed a 10-page list of turkey foods compiled by the National Wild Turkey Federation. In the woods, these foods might include herbaceous plants, seeds, leaves, and buds, as well as tubers, insects, and even snails and salamanders.
It's also important to note that the birds you see in the timber will most often be passing through; traveling along their daily circuit that takes them from their roost to their fields and strutting grounds, and back to the roost again. That's why any woods in close proximity to a field that turkeys use is a good bet, especially if you've watched them emerge or retreat into the tree line of the woods in question.
Another thing to consider is that, like most animals, wild turkeys will use the path of least resistance if at all possible. They'll often use deer trails, old logging roads, creek bottoms and open ridge tops as travel corridors. They'll also filter down through wide-open hardwoods. Each type of topography can provide good locations for ambush if gobblers are in the area.
Fall Turkey Hunting Tactics
"There is something about running right into the middle of a flock of wild turkeys, screaming like a madman that just doesn't seem natural," I thought to myself as I watched the group of twenty-something hens and jakes fly off the ridge in all directions. For a guy whose turkey hunting experiences had been limited to the spring months, the whole idea of "busting up a flock" didn't make a lot of sense. However, I had been assured that when chasing birds in the fall, it was a perfectly acceptable practice.
After watching the birds drop out of sight, I eased my way down from where they had been, stuck out my lone hen decoy, and sat against the most comfortable cedar I could find. Several minutes of silence had passed and I began to question why any turkey would return after the commotion I had created. That thought quickly faded with the first sounds of yelping to my right. Those yelps were immediately answered by some kee-kees down the ridge and to my left. Maybe this crazy scheme would work after all!
I pulled the double reed Primos diaphragm call from my shirt pocket and joined the mix with a few kee-kees of my own. One after another the birds called back and forth in an obvious attempt to regroup. It wasn't long before I began to hear the light crunching of leaves as the flock began to make their way in my direction. A flash of movement to my right caught my attention. It was the bobbing head of a hen coming over the ridge. As she slipped behind a big red oak, I eased my 12-gauge Mossberg around and got it pointed in the right direction. When the hen stepped out from behind the oak at thirty-two yards, I squeezed the trigger and watched my first fall turkey hit the ground.
That one hunt was all it took to sell me on the merits of fall turkey hunting. While it may not contain the heart-pounding gobbling and run-and-gun action of the spring season, it has an excitement all its own and fills an important void for a diehard turkey hunter. Not to mention the fact that it is a great opportunity to put a tasty bird on the Thanksgiving table.
I'm not the only one who has found fall turkey hunting to their liking, either. Turkey hunters across the country are discovering that the fall season can greatly extend the time they spend in the woods chasing after their favorite game bird. In fact, 44 states and two Canadian provinces now have some form of fall/winter turkey season.
Don't get the wrong idea, though. Even with more states offering fall turkey hunting opportunities and more hunters taking advantage of those opportunities, it's not likely that you will encounter a crowd at your favorite autumn turkey spot. That's because these seasons typically coincide with so many other hunting opportunities, including seasons for deer, waterfowl and upland game. That's good news for those who choose to chase after these birds in the fall - lots...
Turkey Hunting: Scouting Early Equals Opening Day Success
Very few hunting sports have grown as quickly as turkey hunting has in the last few decades. When I started turkey hunting, tagging a longbeard wasn't as difficult as it is today. Toms used to come running every time I let loose on my favorite box call. If I made a mistake or two on a tom, most of the time he could be called right back into shotgun range. Gaining permission to hunt was a piece of cake. Most farmers didn't hunt turkeys and really did not care if hunters shot them or not. Gone are the days when harvesting a tom was as simple as stepping off the back porch.
Now, almost every hunter I know is a turkey hunter. It is great that so many hunters have decided to take up the sport, but there is one problem. Birds that get hunted hard quickly decide to close their mouths and head for the hills. In recent years, I scouted birds, located their roost trees, and watched them fly up multiple days in a row. I left the woods a few days before the season started smiling from ear to ear knowing that in a few days, I would leave the woods with a heavy gobbler draped over my shoulder. When I showed up a couple days later, I ran into a truck parked in my favorite place. I heard a seductive hen talking right where I planned on hunting. My ace in the hole quickly disappeared. The question is: now what?
After this happened to me more times than I care to count, I decided to come up with a few back-up plans in case I encounter another hunter. Now I have a simple routine I go through to ensure there are always a few birds for me to chase.
Scout Early in the Year
Put Some Miles on Your Car