7 set-up secrets
A successful hunt hinges on where you plan to get the jump on your turkey
Near approach: Set up within 50 yards of the roost if possible
Some gobbler hunts are doomed to fail the minute the hunter’s backside hits the ground. There are many poor places to set up in the turkey woods-the trick is to not plunk your butt into one of them. Instead, when a lustful long beard gobbles to attract hens, take the time to think the situation through before deciding where to set up. Here’s what you need to consider.
1. Get close
Toms have an easy time finding hens early in the season because the gals come right to them, and they’re not shy about it. With that in mind, give the gobblers what they’re used to-and make it easy for them to find you-by setting up before sunrise as close as possible to their roost without getting detected. This will also help prevent your tom from being intercepted by a real hen, or by another hunter. In open country or in the bare hardwoods of spring, try to get within at least 150 yards of the bird. And where terrain and foliage allow, try to move to within 50 yards.
2. Stay hidden
A mature tom will try to visually confirm what he suspects is a hen calling. If he can see your calling location, he’ll expect to see a feathery babe in that exact spot-if he doesn’t, he’ll hang up or walk off. The deadliest set-ups, therefore, prevent toms from seeing your calling location until they step into shotgun or bow range (within 40 yards). On a trail, set up just around a bend from the direction you expect the bird to come from. Since the tom won’t be able to see around the bend, he’ll have to venture around the corner-and into range-for a look. In hilly country, set up below the crest of a hill with the gobbler on the other side. That way, when he comes over the hill to investigate, he’ll be in range as soon as he appears. Likewise, you can use any wrinkle in the terrain-a saucer-like depression, a hillside bench, deadfall, a clump of bushes or a large tree-to block his view of your calling location. Cover such as a large tree will also muffle your calls, making it harder for the gobbler to pinpoint your exact location. The set-up should allow the bird a clear and easy approach, yet deny him a look at the alluring caller until he’s close enough for you to see his beard swinging with each step.
3. Stay high
Turkeys prefer to walk uphill when investigating a call. That way, if they run into a predator they can simply turn around and leap into the air to escape on wing. If they’re walking downhill and meet trouble, however, it’s much more difficult for them to turn and run uphill or get into the air. Therefore, try to set up on a higher plane than a gobbling bird, or at least on the same level as him.
This article was originally published on April 30, 2009