Wild turkey surprise: Locating and calling boss gobblers during the unusual spring of 2018

Steve Piatt, editor at New York Outdoor News, was awarded second place in the newspaper columns category for "Out There: Looking Back on That First Longbeard," which published March 10, 2017.

I have a vast network of hunting buddies and colleagues, and if I had to sum up in one word the reports so far out of this turkey season it would be … strange. Or maybe erratic? Unreliable? Inconsistent? Something along those lines.

My own experience in three states thus far has echoed that general sentiment. Birds have flocked up and locked on hens way later than usual, but if I spend enough time in the woods, I’ll get the right bird going.

Sometimes, as it was in the case of my trip to Nebraska to bowhunt public land, it took nearly all day to find an interested bird. When I did, he came in on a string, and for being the only turkey I saw all day, he was the right one. Ditto for his ridgetop gobbling buddy the next morning.

On that trip, I only saw two birds the entire time, but they were both fired up and ended up over my shoulder after getting into bow range.

At home in Minnesota, the birds were more callable, but that’s probably because I’ve got a good spot to hunt and had set up several blinds ahead of time. I’d also scouted it out consistently, so I expected a few of my blinds to produce.

I ended my season in Iowa on a spot that should have been more action-packed. In two days, my buddy and I worked a lot of birds but only one came to the decoys. He was a stud of a bird and rounded out my season by letting me send an arrow his way at nine yards. After that, we couldn’t get a bird into range despite our best efforts.

I have buddies hunting everywhere from New York to Missouri to Texas, and their reports are similar to mine: inconsistent flock activity, with a bird or two that eventually plays the game.

The takeaway? If you’re having a tough year, stay out there. Keep setting up and putting in your time. Eventually, your yelps and purrs will fall on the ears of the right bird that will behave the way you expect turkeys to behave.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, How To’s, Hunting, Tony Peterson, Turkey

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