By: Monte Perron
First Attitude – Expect to Succeed
Why go into the woods if you do not expect to succeed? Expecting to be successful made all the difference in my Florida hunt. Beginning hunters must decide to have this attitude because they do not have previous experience to call upon.
Let me be your mentor here by assuring you that, if you prepare yourself and put yourself in a place where there are turkeys, you have a GREAT POSSIBILITY of taking one home. Expecting success will make the outing more enjoyable from the start. It will also motivate you to stay out there. Finally, when you run out of daylight and still have an unfilled tag you will know that you are one hunt closer to success!
Second Attitude – Go The Extra Mile
Willingness to “go the extra mile” is an attitude that I call the “equalizer” because it can make up for most, if not all, deficiencies. For example, if you do not have great calling skills but you are willing to hunt longer or work harder at locating the “right” bird, you can overcome that weakness. If you sound anything at all like a turkey, the extra effort will eventually produce the “right” bird. The “right” bird will think your calling is “music to his ears” and come in to meet that beautiful hen. What he will find is a load of number sixes coming out of your ready shotgun. Go the extra mile. – it works!
Third Attitude – Be Aggressive
Remember we are talking about attitudes, not actions. In the turkey woods, being aggressive simply means to exercise your hunting style with passion. For example, if your chosen method of hunting is to wait in a likely area, then stay until other priorities or the end of legal hunting time forces you to leave. In this specific case, be aggressively patient. You are simply doing everything in your control.
Fourth Attitude – Be Persistent
Being persistent is simply a matter of deciding to keep trying. In my own case, I took my first deer on my second day in the woods. My second came eleven years later – eleven years of trying!
I gotta admit that I was both frustrated and discouraged during that long dry spell. What kept me going was a love of the outdoors and telling myself I had just gotten one hunt closer to success. I am truly thankful that I was persistent. That persistent attitude I developed as a deer hunter has served me well as a turkey hunter.
Staying persistent kept me out there and I eventually developed the skills to start filling tags.
Knowing that success in any endeavor is a matter of attitude and effort has always been encouraging to me. The encouraging thing is that we have complete control over both. Mastering the technical skills will provide success, but a willingness to take action with a great attitude will take any hunter to a higher level. The “secret” is to take the right actions with the right attitude. Give me an enthusiastic turkey hunter with a cheap box call that understands how to take charge of what he can control and I will show you a hunter who is dangerous to the local gobblers!
“Get After Em!”
By: Monte Perron
First, let’s cover some of the actions that will empower a hunter in the turkey woods.
First Action - Acquiring Access to Turkey Land
Restocking efforts by state wildlife agencies and The National Wild Turkey Federation have been tremendously successful, providing turkeys in huntable numbers throughout the contiguous 48 states and in Hawaii and parts of Canada.
These restocking efforts have made it easier to find land with turkeys on it, but I still hear hunters complain of limited or no access to “good” hunting land. The definition of “good” is subjective, but I always encourage them to try hunting on public ground. I have had many super hunts on public ground because I am willing to improve my situation by separating myself from the masses. I do that by walking farther, staying longer, or showing up in the middle of the day when most folks have gone home. Honestly, I have experienced more isolation on public ground than any hunt club I have ever been a part of.
Acquiring access to private land can be done many different ways. The simplest way is to join a hunt club. Another possibility is to ask different landowners until you get a yes. The secret here is to be polite, present a good first impression, and do not be offended if you are turned down. The landowner of one of my favorite places turned me down the first time I asked.
Once you have permission be respectful of the land and try to cultivate a friendship if they are receptive. Many of my best friends are people I did not know until I asked them for permission to hunt.
Second Action – Scouting
Once you have found a place you will need to become familiar with the lay of the land and the local flock. The best place to start getting familiar with the property is on your computer using Google Earth. Once you have checked the aerial view you can use what you learned to get familiar with the birds on the land. On new ground I tailor my approach to the time of year. If it is winter, and we are several months away from spring turkey season, I will walk the land extensively and evaluate both the turkey sightings and sign I see. If turkey season is coming soon I will use a less intrusive approach where I listen for gobbling birds and evaluate where they go after fly-down. Prior to opening day I probably will not penetrate the property if I hear gobbling. In fact, when I hear a bird, I will often head out for other areas to see what else I might hear.
Third Action – Calling Practice
Becoming a proficient caller can be accomplished by anyone who is willing to practice. There are many different types of calls and most will work if you develop the skills needed to use them properly. Practicing with mouth diaphragms while driving to and from work provides a great opportunity to hone calling skills while not annoying anyone. My wife really appreciates me using this opportunity to practice.
Friction calls, such as slates and box calls, really work and can be mastered with effort. My own calling strategies involve the use of many different types of calls. I have killed turkeys using almost every type of call made.
Fourth Action – Find a Mentor
This action is completely optional, but it is probably the best thing one can do to compress the timeframes required to make it through the turkey hunting learning curve. Sure, you can learn it on your own. In fact, I believe that it is not knowledge until you have personally experienced it in the woods. That is when it becomes yours. That is when you know it in your knower. Nevertheless, until you get to the point it is smart to get a little kick start.
My first mentor, Richard Fox, Jr, gave me a good start and I have learned from others along the way. He knew his craft and was willing to share. I would have been a fool not to take advantage of his assistance.
Even if you do not have access to a personal mentor you can learn through videos, magazines, books, seminars, and the world wide web! Whenever I am in the presence of a proven turkey hunter I do twice as much listening as talking. Many times the smallest bits of information have created tremendous improvements in the field.
To be continued:
“Get After Em!”
By: Monte Perron
My first spring turkey hunt of 2000 began with the approach of a Florida wildlife officer’s vehicle instead of the gobbler I had roosted the night before. My hunting partner, the late Mike McKinsey of Realtree, and I had just hiked 45 minutes with video and hunting gear to the area where I had located the bird the previous evening. Shortly after reaching our listening spot, we heard a shot from the roost site instead of our turkey gobbling to entice his harem of hens. We were on a special draw hunt and it seemed that a poacher had shot “our” bird. The aforementioned game warden quickly asked for the direction of the shot and departed in hot pursuit of the violator. What had begun with the excitement and confidence that comes from knowing the position of a gobbling turkey had become a potentially dismal situation.
We were in an unfamiliar wilderness area that a vehicle had just passed through (not an everyday occurrence) and there were no other turkeys gobbling in ear range. Only seeing one set of tracks while scouting most of the previous day added to our opportunity for despair. At this point, I was really tempted to get discouraged, but instead, I fell back on a philosophy that I believe is essential for success in any endeavor, including turkey hunting. That philosophy was that we had to rely on what we could control – our attitude and actions! Mike looked at me and asked “now what?” Realizing that I could not change any of the events of the recent past I responded with “I am going to walk down this path and pretend that we are in the best turkey hunting spot on the planet. Furthermore, I am going to choose to believe that we will hook up and take a bird this very morning!” What else could I do? I wasn’t going to leave.
Within two hours of that decision I had harvested my first Osceola longbeard. Over the next three days, I filled both of my tags, and Mike also scored on his first Osceola. Wow! We could have given up in the first 30 minutes. Instead, as the old saying goes – we made lemonade, or maybe turkey tenders.
Many people approach turkey hunting from a position of developing technical skills. Proficiency in hunting skills such as calling, turkey behavior, woodsmanship, breeding stages, and food sources are important to the turkey hunter but no guarantee of success. The bottom line is the most experienced hunter is in pursuit of a creature that he cannot make do one thing. Those who do not understand this fact are often frustrated. Hunters become discouraged when they do the technical things and still come home empty handed.
Satisfaction, on the other hand, is the reward of those who understand how powerful a prepared person is with the right attitude. Every time I guide another hunter I squelch the anxiety about success by reminding myself what I can control- my actions and the attitude I take those actions with. For example, I cannot make a turkey gobble, but I can exhaust every effort to locate a gobbling bird by walking and calling on every inch of land I have available to me. I handle the pressure of knowing that someone is counting on me by being willing to do everything in my control to help that person harvest a bird.
The relief comes from the realization that as long as I am willing to do what I can control then I have done as much as could be expected of me. In addition to being comforting, this knowledge has produced many successful hunts. In the next few paragraphs I hope to explain both the actions and attitudes I have used to have many great hunts in the turkey woods.
To be continued.
“Get After Em”