Turkey hunting especially in Louisiana is like playing chess. It is a challenging sport and there are many ways to win the game. Classic hunts are not the norm. So what do you do when you don’t get a bird right off the roost? Problem solving is the key to success. First however you must figure out what the problem is.
As the season is on its way there are two areas of concern since it has opened so early this year. The big rains we had prior to opening day has moved a lot of the birds that had been previously scouted. Some turkeys however will be held up on islands and must be located by boat. Scouting is the key. After opening day every hunt starts a new game. By that I mean previous turkeys that were located may not be in the same location or even alive for that matter. Concentrate your scouting trips on good clear cool mornings for the most accurate information on a particular bird.
Several years ago Boyd McMullan and myself were hunting a piece of property several days and had only heard one bird during that time. On the third day the weather was beautiful and the woods exploded with turkeys! By 8:00 am we had heard about twenty birds; called in three, and killed two. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear anything especially on marginal days. Also keep in mind that as the season progresses you hearing distance decreases due to more foliage on the trees.
Another problem area we have to deal with is with the hens. Opening weekend humbled quite a few hunters with hens stealing the gobbler away. One of my favorite ways to eliminate that problem is to spook a hen that comes in to your calling if you can flush her away from the gobbler without him seeing you. Keep in mind it’s you against the hens. If your calling stimulates a Tom to gobble it also attracts the hens to him. Once I get that gobbler keyed in on me I shut up so as not to attract attention from hens as well as other hunters. If you do have a hen take over the show try to piss her off by calling aggressively. Hopefully she’ll come in to investigate the new hen while dragging her boyfriend along.
Chances are in most situations that after the gobbler is finished with her that he will come searching you out especially later in the season. So you may elect to stay put as that hen will probably drift away from the gobbler to go to her nest and he will be in search of a new girl friend.
When dealing with pressured birds try to non-typical tactics. Use your imagination. Most hunters typically set up and start yelping. Try just cluck and purring, moving away from a bird, scratching the leaves as a bird feeding, etc. The list is endless but the season is not. So I’m off to the woods! Good Luck!