-By Brandon Wikman
- Distance - Listening is the key element in locating a turkey. Situating yourself in the right proximity will allow you to hear the fly-up. I am very cautious to position myself no closer than a hundred yards from a roost site, which in the Midwest is in the pines. If you sit too close, you may alert the birds, but if you sit too far, you won’t hear them at all.
As darkness settles and the forest becomes silent, keep your ears at full alert. The sounds of limbs busting and wings popping are a definite sign that a bird has roosted near. Sometimes hens will cackle as they make their way to their towering bed. This is just another sound to listen for.
- Saying Goodnight - We’ve all seen hunters use the owl-hoot calling method on television and receive a thunderous response from a nearby gobbler. Using the owl call is an effective strategy in locating a particular gobbler. When using the owl hoot, be sure to sound off a cadence such as, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for ya’ll?” This will oftentimes super charge a gobbler into giving away his position.
Another type of locating call to use during the evening is a coyote call. I love using them when all else fails. Sometimes gobblers won’t respond to an owl hoot and wind can block your ability to hear the turkeys flying up. This is when a coyote call comes in handy. The yip and bark of the call sends shivers up my spine, but has the potential of snapping a gobbler into gobbling. Coyote calls are extremely high-pitched and the screeching blare can travel throughout an entire block of woods.
- Nightmare - I always wait until complete darkness before slipping out and back towards my vehicle. I leave absolutely no chance in giving away my presence to a bird. The last thing you want to do is pinpoint a bird and then somehow unknowingly bust him off his roost by spooking him.
You need to take into consideration that a turkey literally has a bird’s-eye view when there half way up the tree. This enables them to see and hear even better. When leaving your scouting grounds, be quiet, slinky and smooth.
- Disclaimer - A very important point to consider is that not all birds are responsive. I’ve had situations where I used an owl and coyote call the night before with no feedback from any birds, but come morning a strutting tom’s parading around my old footprints! There are no guarantees or precise patterning methods dealing with these unpredictable birds.
It’s always a bonus when you can locate a bird the night before. With enough thought, planning, and luck you’ll be able to formulate a morning tactic to put the bird on the ground and into your vest. Roosting is just another scouting and prep tool that maximizes your chance at a hefty long beard.