Turkey Talk with Ryan Miloshewski
By Ryan Miloshewski
I send you greetings on this stormy spring day in St. Louis. The weather may be bad, but it can’t compare to the anxiousness and anguish churning around in my body as I count down the days until my first turkey hunt. Every morning on the drive to work I see five toms strutting with at least 20 hens, and it only stokes the raging fire. Scouting is needed to be done, and I’m doing it, but I just can’t help but dream of the day I can bring my arsenal of calls, decoys, and Mossberg with me. As good friend Mark Wood put it, “this is a sick obsession!”
On Easter morning I went out to the farm to listen for gobbles, and I was not disappointed. Three toms, with gritty, thundering voices sounded off at 6:08 am. They continued for another 20 minutes or so until they hit the ground. They were roosted in the same spot the big boys always reside, in a hollow where approach is not easy. Undoubtedly they will be there opening morning, so I am beginning my plan of attack now.
If you’re in a similar situation, study maps on Google Earth or ScoutLook. Pinpoint as accurately as you can where they were roosted and where you can effectively hunt them. Being already familiar with a property has its perks, so rely on that knowledge, too. The best thing to do is to move in after the toms slink out of the area and find exactly what trees they were in. Study the surrounding land, and envision the hunt taking place. Pick out a spot where you can get close enough to the roost without spooking the birds, and develop a way to get there. In my case, I will have to walk nearly ¾ of a mile to get to the toms without being busted. So be it.
Toms will be giving away their general opening day locations during the next two weeks. It is your job to get out there and listen, look for scratchings, and roost sites. Be as low impact as possible, though, as you don’t want to alert a group of turkeys so close to the opener. If you have to stay out and just listen, do it. No need to risk it. Last week’s report was concentrating on just finding turkeys. Now is when you find the toms. They will be roosting alone and the mating process is imminent. Find them and devise a plan, and prepare for execution come April 20th.
-Always bring along fishing gear when you go turkey hunting. Fishing is a perfect way to end a successful (or unsuccessful) day of chasing gobblers.
-A fly down cackle can seal the deal on a lovesick tom. However, it is a difficult cadence to master, and if you are less than adept I’d suggest a lot of practice or refraining from trying it altogether. Simple tree yelps and soft cutts work, too.
-Whenever I hunt in the mornings, I take an old turkey wing and beat it against my thigh as soon as flydown approaches. Try to create the entire illusion.
-Try gobbler fighting purrs to coax in a bird this spring. They are fast, loud, and intense. Try purring four or five times in a row while beating a wing against the ground.
-If a tom cuts you off with a gobble while you are calling, he is willing and ready to make a fateful error.
-When hunting fields with mud or dirt, look for lines in the ground, in an irregular pattern. This indicates a tom was strutting there recently.
-After you harvest a bird check its crop to see what it has been eating. The crop is situation just above the breast and is a sac-like structure. This will give you clues as to where the turkeys are spending most of their time.
-Whip-poor-wills have started singing at dusk and dawn. Enjoy their calls as you walk to your hunting spot.
-Plant your spring food plots this week or next.
-Carry a plastic grocery bag spray painted hunter orange with you this spring. If you harvest a bird, put the head in the bag and tie it shut. This prevents your pants from getting bloody and offers great safety.
-Morel mushrooms should be starting to pop up. Get out there and grab some of the tasty fungi!
Quote of the week: “You don’t hunt turkeys because you want to; you hunt turkeys because you have to.”—Tom Kelly
Our good buddies in Kansas have started their quest for spring dominance with bow season opening yesterday. Good luck to them and all you lucky hunters out there with seasons open! Happy scouting for the rest of us!
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