John's Journal...


Techniques for Hunting Silent Gobblers

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Have you ever scouted for turkeys before the season on public lands and heard plenty of toms talking to the timber, but then when you've returned to those same woods two weeks after turkey season opens, you don't hear a sound? This week we'll look at the best ways to hunt high-pressured, public-land gobblers, especially the ones that become silent.

To take silent, thick-cover gobblers in your hunting area, you must first locate them. But according to Mitchell Marks, an avid turkey hunter and wildlife biologist in Colbert County, Alabama, to successfully bag a longbeard in thick-cover areas where most hunters won't hunt, you'll find that woodsmanship far outweighs calling skills in importance.Click to enlarge
"When I hunt in thick cover late in the season, I'll
sneak into the cover, walk a few steps, stop and then scratch
in the leaves with the toe of my boot," Marks reports. "Then
I'll wait about two minutes, walk two or three more steps and
scratch in the leaves again. When the gobbler hears me, he
assumes that I'm just another turkey in the brush. A few
times I've been able to walk right up to a gobbler in thick
cover, get off a shot and bag the bird before he spots me or
I spook him. If I don't hear a turkey when I'm walking into the cover, I sit down and listen. Many times I'll hear a gobbler walking toward me in that thick cover. Because the gobbler can't see me in that dense brush, he'll often come right to me because he thought I was a turkey walking when he heard me coming into the cover."

Click to enlargeHowever, don't feel bad if you spook a gobbler in thick
cover. You haven't committed an unpardonable sin. If you
spook a turkey out of thick cover, at least you know where
he's living. You can return to that same place two or three
days later and possibly call that tom to within gun range.
Too, if you spook or take a gobbler in thick cover late in
the season, more than likely you'll find another gobbler in
that same thicket the next year. When Marks considers his odds for encountering a hidden gobbler in the cover where he plans to hunt, he'll think about whether he has ...
* found a gobbler in that cover the year before,
Click to enlarge * spooked a gobbler out of the cover and/or
* spotted gobbler tracks going to and from that cover.

But hunters will learn that hens too will move to thick cover
when there's intense hunting pressure in open woods. "I've watched hens come so close to me that I can almost
feel them breathe," Marks comments. "Remember, if a turkey
has never seen a hunter inside those thick places then the
bird won't expect you to be there."



Check back each day this week for more about HUNTING HIGH-PRESSURED PUBLIC-LAND GOBBLERS

Day 1 - Toms That Vanish
Day 2 - Proof of a Theory
Day 3 - Techniques for Hunting Silent Gobblers
Day 4 - Late-Season Hunting
Day 5 - A Warning to the Silent Gobbler Turkey Hunter


Entry 290, Day 3