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Advice for a turkey newbie

mcelweed

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May 10, 2012
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134
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Albuquerque
I'm taking my daughter turkey hunting in a couple weeks here in NM and I need some advice (only my second year turkey hunting). We found a tank (pond) that is at the end of a field that would be a good strut zone. We also found an area with a fair amount of turkey sign. My question is where would you set up on the first morning? Do turkeys typically go to water first thing in the morning or would we be better off trying to pull one in from the other area? Thanks.
 

sneakypete

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May 19, 2014
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Best advice is scout late afternoon or early evening to find a roost tree and put the turkeys to bed, then set up close to the tree in the dark.
 

skimerhorn

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Oct 9, 2012
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Ashland Va
Best advice is scout late afternoon or early evening to find a roost tree and put the turkeys to bed, then set up close to the tree in the dark.

Yep what he said, plus if I were you I'd carry a blind for you and your daughter to hide in. Especially if it's your first time hunting turkeys, doesn't take much movement to spook them.
 

mcelweed

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May 10, 2012
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Albuquerque
Thanks, but unfortunately roosting them probably won't be possible the night before the first day. We have a long drive to get there the night before. Definitely planning to try to roost some the next evening, but she only has 2 1/2 days to hunt. On the bright side we have basic blinds that will be supplemented with camo burlap built in both locations. Which should I opt for the first morning; water or sign?
 

kansasdad

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My Kansas turkeys do not immediately head to water. Generally they fly down into the open field and on cold days are finding sunshine. They go through the dominance battles to re-establish the pecking order, and then head out for food. Seems strange to say this, but I guess I have never seen turkeys drinking.....ever.

I don't use water as a concentration point for turkeys. My birds are Rio/Eastern and I am in agricultural land, so your circumstances hunting (presumed) Merriams may be very different from mine.
 

Epfd217

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Feb 26, 2014
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Eden Prairie, Minnesota
I would agree that water if very rarely a consideration for turkeys. They need it to some extent of course, but I've never seen turkeys make a pattern based on water. The may hang out in the area of the tank of the ground around there is good for a strutting zone, but I would focus more on roost areas and figure out where they are going to strut.

If you don't have time to roost the night before, get there early in the morning and wait for your first gobbles. Get as close as you can in the dark and wait to see what the birds do. As long as you don't spook them, they will likely do the same thing all weekend.
 

gwhunter

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Jun 16, 2014
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I too have never seen a turkey drink water. I would imagine they get the majority (or all) of their water from the food they eat. If you think about it, where do turkeys go to drink water when all the water is frozen? ;)
 

cowboystl1

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Mar 11, 2015
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St. Louis Missouri
Ok turkeys will get water from food and where they can find it in there daily circle if you can hunt all day find where they are roosting like said before get close as you can and try and get them off the roost. stay put till late morning. call every 15 to twenty min from that spot then if no results go take a lunch but get back early enough to set up a blind back in that spot or closer to the roost area they will be back that evening. if you cant hunt all day get that blind up close to the roost and get back there the next mornin before light using as little flashlight as you safely can. there are tons of ways to chase birds but with kids best way o ensure success is to set up (with a blind) in a location where the birds frequent feeding or roosting areas set up some hen decoys maybe a jake and just call till they answer or come investigate. if you have any question you can pm me or email ill be happy to help, your in NM i have friends there that can point you in the right direction as well.
 

gwhunter

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Jun 16, 2014
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Michigan
Because you said you won't be able to get there the night before, another thing you can do first thing in the morning is use a 'locator' call. When hunting eastern's here in the midwest (i've only hunted Michigan and Indiana with a total kill of 5 birds in about 12 years, so I'm no expert and take this recommendations with a grain of salt) you can use any number of calls early in the morning to try to scope out their position and know which direction to head if you weren't able to put any to bed. They will gobble at an owl call, crow call, or heck, even a car door slamming (wouldn't recommend the last one :) ). If you have a portable blind (double bull, ameristep, etc.) you could walk around your hunting area trying to locate the birds using your locator call prior to setting up your blind. If you find some birds prior to them flying down you could set up your blind as close as you think you could get without them seeing you and hopefully call them into your set-up.

However, a lot of times the birds already have an idea of where they want to go when they fly down so you may have to just be lucky to have them come your way. If they have a hot hen (or even a cold hen the majority of the time) with them and the hen decides she wants to go the opposite way there is no amount of calling that will bring those tom's your way.

Just keep in mind that if you use the "locate them and then set up your pop-up blind" method you need to make sure they don't see all that commotion setting it up. They may stay in the trees they are in until they are ready to fly down, but they will go the opposite direction when they fly down. Me and a buddy thought we were being super stealthy by sneaking into 30 yards of a group of roosted tom's (without a blind). We were talking with them for almost 15 minutes before they flew down. Well, when they flew down they all flew directly away from us. We thought that since they didn't fly off when we were approaching them that they didn't see us. Well, apparently we thought wrong.

Good luck! It's an addictive experience.
 

ringer

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Dec 1, 2004
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878
I killed a lot of birds in unit 10 in NM and it is best to just get up and hike up a hill in the woods before first light and sit her down in a thicket where she can see out. At least in front of some brush and camo up real good. Use a box call and let out a few yelps right as it gets light enough to shoot. If you get a gobble then call a few times but don't overcall. If the second gobble is closer he is coming to your call and will get there fast. Have her gun up and ready. I use a diaphram call for the last little clucks. You will be amazed at how fast they can cover ground when they are lonely. Good luck and hope she kills a big one.
 

mcelweed

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May 10, 2012
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Location
Albuquerque
Thanks everyone. From this thread and talking to a couple of guys at work, we are going with the sign area. If nothing pans out the first morning we will probably ridge-run that afternoon to see if we can get lucky and find one. If not then we'll roost some for Saturday morning. Should be interesting.
 

mcelweed

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May 10, 2012
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Location
Albuquerque
The first morning was a bust. We didn't hear a thing. The second morning we set up on the water on Saturday and around 7:20 they started gobbling. We working this group till around 8:30 when they came to the edge of the field. The Tom was hammering but since he had a bunch of hens he wouldn't come closer than 200 yds. A little later 6 jakes walked to the edge of the field bout 60 yds without making a sound. We talked to the Tom and a couple hens for about the next hour but they never came in. Overall a pretty good day.

On Sunday it was cloudy and we sat until 8:30 when my daughter got cold so we went back to the truck. Around 9:30 the sun peeked through and we went back out. As soon as we sat down and I called one gobbled. We worked this group for the next 1 1/2 hr as they move back and forth behind us. Finally around 11:00 I saw3 toms about 50 yds away on the small ridge behind us. They hung up on the fence, strutted briefly then fed off. Unfortunately my daughter didn't get her bird, but I think she is hooked. She is determined to get a bird this year.
 

Festus

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Apr 13, 2012
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Virginia
Turkeys can and will be frustrating!
Glad that y'all are at least hearing and seeing birds - that really helps to keep a youngsters interest.
 

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