Video: Reading the Roost and Other Turkey-Hunting Tips

Sometimes it pays to break your own rules. In the case of this Texas turkey hunt, the toms were super vocal and the hens tight-lipped. So Bowhunting World editor Jace Bauserman called an audible.

Video: Reading the Roost and Other Turkey-Hunting Tips

A destructive fire that rolled through the Texas ranch weeks before couldn’t extinguish the sheer beauty of this little slice of Lone Star Heaven. I’d been invited to attend a wild turkey hunt by my friends at Backbone Media, Sloane Brown and Tyler Pearce. The ranch has been in Brown’s family for years, and it was a privilege to bowhunt it.

I’d arrived in camp in time to hunt the evening, but Brown and I opted to roost birds instead. After driving to the highest point on the ranch, we put our Maven glass to work. You could see everything – the land had been stripped of old growth and the new sprouts of green weren’t tall enough to hide much. We roosted a pair of toms and a single hen. The plan was for me to slip in on them in the morning.

Having never been to the location where I planned to set up and knowing the lack of cover could easily lead to the bird’s picking me off, I spent the remainder of the evening doing my homework. I located the cottonwood the birds were roosted in using OnXmaps on my iPhone. Then I plotted my route in, noting every stich of available cover that could disguise my approach, finally settling on a spot near some charred brush to set up my Double Bull. I had no intentions of using a headlamp, and I was going in super early. The darkness would further camouflage my approach.

The walk in was long and tricky. I stopped every few minutes to lean my body over my iPhone to distinguish its light and check my location. It took time (I didn’t care because I took the extra effort to go early), but I eventually made it to the brush I’d marked and in minutes had the blind set, the Dave Smith and Avian-X deeks out and was ready to hunt.

The birds never made a peep, which was a good thing. I knew they hadn’t seen me. Finally, just as light started to crack, the toms got super vocal. Rios are notorious for being hard gobblers on the roost, but this boy band lit it up. The hen, however, remained super quiet. She never made a sound, not even a strain-the-ear-to-hear tree yelp.

Normally, when hunting roosted birds, I stay pretty quiet. I will tree yelp a little to let the birds know I’m in the area, but don’t tend to get too aggressive. I quickly changed my tune on this hunt. The first time I tree yelped the gobblers did an about-face in the tree and aimed their voices right at me. The hen in the tree remained tight-lipped. I tree yelped again, and the birds thundered and went into strut on the limb. I decided to yelp a tad louder and even cut on the call, just a bit. One of the longbeards actually pitched down and started working his way toward me, way earlier than these birds normally hit the dirt. The other followed suit. They came on a string, I didn’t call again, and the attached video shows how the hunt ended.

Remember, bowhunting is all about being flexible and reading the animals you’re hunting. Now get out there and get after them!


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