Accepted turkey-hunting lore mostly originates in the East, where hemmed-in woodlots and limited space make wandering taboo. Bowhunting Western turkey is different, wide open space and vast public lands giving bowhunters more elbow room. While Eastern turkeys can pose a complicated game of chess, bowhunting Western birds normally becomes purely physical, require more hiking and climbing than championship calling skills.
Run-and-gun turkey hunting can also include quality binoculars, used to gaze across wide meadows, from the lip of a mesa or across mountain canyons seeking ambling gobblers.
A call that grabs gobblers’ attention is equally important. Loud locator calls (screaming peacocks, crow calls, or coyote howlers) can help locate a gobbler in the next zip code or buck Western winds. Actual turkey calls should follow suit. Box calls are perfect for pounding out attention-grabbing yelps, switching to precise slates or diaphragms once a tom draws closer.
Having a bird roosted isn’t necessary (though convenient). Start the morning wandering obvious habitat or travelways. Sound off with a loud locator or box call every so often, glassing when possible but covering ground to increase your odds of finding a hot tom. This approach also facilitates all-day hunting, and doesn’t require time-consuming preseason scouting.
Once a gobbler’s located the fun begins. Remember, though, mountain birds can prove reluctant to alter travel plans. In these cases do what it takes to arrive in a gobbler’s or mixed flock’s path before setting up. This can involve spirited jogs and long climbs in rough country, but is rewarded afterwards with willing birds. Once in position, calling uneducated Western birds is the easy part
Any Eastern turkey-hunting snob will be happy to remind you how dumb Western birds are—as if this is a bad thing. These are typically burly fellows who know nothing of how physically challenging a Western turkey hunt can be. Let them have their Eastern birds, we like our dumb birds just fine.