Turkey Hunting Articles --
Perfect Set Up
- Basic Guidelines for Setting Up on a Gobbler -
by Rob Ramsdale --
Many times you will
not have the opportunity to really scout an area
before hunting there and instead you have to read
an area based on what you can see directly around
you. For example, you are hunting a new area and
it's late in the morning and you are moving around
trying to get a bird to gobble. You finally get
a good response and you are now looking for a tree
to jump behind since that gobble was close!!
Here are some basic
guidelines to keep in mind when setting up on any
- If you are walking around and stopping to
call occasionally, trying to get a gobbler to
respond, try to stop in a spot that has a handy
place to set up since many times the bird will
be close and you need to get ready immediately.
Look for obstacles
- When you get a bird to respond, quickly determine
where the gobbler is located and what lies between
you and the bird. If the gobbler has to hop
a fence, climb down a hill, bust through some
brush and cross a creek to get to you , odds
are he's not going to go to that much trouble.
This is not to say it's impossible, but you
may as well increase your odds of success by
moving and giving the gobbler a clearer path
to your calling location.
When possible, try and get on the same elevation
as the bird or above him. They will come downhill
to your calling but they are much more comfortable
coming to a location that is at the same level
they are or higher. Turkey experts seem to think
this has something to do with their basic survival
instincts since it is much easier for them to
spring into the air and avoid a predator when
they are walking uphill. Or it could be they
are like me and walking downhill hurts their
knees and ankles more. Who knows.
Try to set up
against a tree that is wider than your back
- This will break up your outline better
and also has the safety advantage of protecting
your back if someone should sneak in behind
you and accidentally send a shot in your direction.
Many times, finding a big enough tree is not
possible due to the fact there may not be any
trees that big in the terrain you are hunting.
Wide stumps, rocks and bushes or brush can be
used if the terrain doesn't have any large trees.
My last resort is setting up against a small
tree in the open but I have done this and been
successful. Another option when there really
is nothing except some grass and weeds (Those
of you who hunt Rio's or Merriam's especially)
is to go prone. Laying prone is often very successful
because when you think about where a turkey
is looking from, his eyes are only 3 to 4 feet
high and he can't really see that well into
that grass patch up ahead of him.
Remove all sticks
and leaves from your sitting area - This
not only makes you more comfortable but it also
eliminates much of the noise you make while
sitting there. I do like to keep some leaves
to scratch by my side if I can since this can
often bring in a tom when nothing else will.
chances for the gobbler to see you.
I try and do several things to maximize my chances
when a bird is coming in. First, if possible,
I'll set up in an area where I won't be able
to see the bird until he is in range. Conversely,
the gobbler won't be able to see me either.
When I set up on a ridge top and I'm calling
a bird below me, I'll try and sit back from
the rim far enough that I won't see the bird
until he is in range. I'll also take advantage
of any low brush around the tree I'm sitting
against to break up my outline and sometimes
I will move or cut some nearby brush or low
branches for extra cover. The low brush or a
low-profile blind will hide all of your hand
movements when you're using a slate or box call.
Another thing I like to do when I'm using decoys
is to set the decoy off to the side of the direction
I think the bird is coming from so when he gets
close and he's staring that decoy down, I'm
not sitting directly in his line of sight. This
is a hunting tactic which is often used while
duck hunting also.
Sit down and
get comfortable - Many times you will have
to wait an hour or more for a gobbler to come
in all of the way. Try and get as comfortable
as possible and lay out the various calls you
are going to use so you can quickly get yours
hands on any of them. This is also a good time
to get out the sand paper or Scotch- Brite type
scouring pad and condition any friction calls
that you will be using.
Point your left
shoulder (if right-handed) in the direction
you think the gobbler will approach from -
This will give you the maximum possible range
of motion in case the gobbler circles and comes
in from the side or another bird comes in from
behind you. At best you can cover about 180
degrees. There are times when you still can't
turn your body enough to get a shot. That is
when you may have to try a left-handed shot
(if you're right-handed). This is something
most people never practice but it never hurts
to practice moving your shotgun to your opposite
shoulder and shooting with your opposite eye.
You can be just as effective off both shoulders
if you practice a little and if you hunt turkeys
long enough, you'll be glad you did some day.
Get your gun
ready - At this point, you are seated and
ready to begin calling the bird in all of the
way. This is a good time to check your gun to
make sure it is loaded and ready. Some hunters
do not even load their gun until they are set
up which is ultimately the safest way of hunting.
I used to be one of these until I clicked on
an empty chamber one day while a huge gobbler
stood there looking. I now carry a loaded gun
once I leave my vehicle and it stays that way
until I stop hunting for the day. I am pretty
paranoid about checking the safety often while
I'm moving around and as long as you are careful
and use good common sense, I don't see any reason
to not keep your gun loaded all of the time.
If you plan on using slate or box calls in your
calling, place the gun in your lap with
the muzzle pointed in the general direction
of the gobbler. Hunters who use the mouth call
exclusively have the advantage of being able
to get their knee up and their shotgun raised
and pointed in the general direction of the
gobbling turkey well before it is in range.
- If you are like me and like using a lot
of slate and friction calls, you cannot always
keep your gun up and across one knee when you
are calling a bird in. That's OK. Just
start calling anyway and when the bird does
get in view, you can wait until he crosses behind
a tree or some other object and then raise your
gun. If all else fails, you can slowly raise
your gun on a gobbler in the open. He will sometimes
see you and spook but it's worth a try anyway.
Shoot and celebrate
- If everything else goes according to plans,
you now have a gobbler in front of you within
range. All you have to do is put your sights
on his neck and pull the trigger!