What’s one phrase that realtors and anyone involved in the housing market repeatedly love to preach? “Location, location, location,” right? You’ve heard it all before, and can probably understand why this is true. But what do housing clichés have to do with turkey hunting and ground blinds? You can say the same thing about the best locations for your ground blind during turkey season. Of all the spring turkey hunting tips you hear about, it really all comes down to location, whether you’re hunting relatively unpressured, early season birds or extremely call-shy, late season birds.
Now you’re probably asking what the purpose of turkey decoys or calling tactics is if location is the most important factor. Those are extremely important details too, as we’ll look at below. But without the right location or hunting blind set up, you may be stacking the deck against yourself before you even head out into the woods. So if you’re wondering how to how to hunt turkeys in the spring, here are some tips for finding and taking advantage of these turkey hunting hot spots so you can have a better chance at adding a fan and beard to your wall soon.
Youth Season Turkey Hunting Success Out Of Ground Blinds
(video) A lot of turkey hunting action and a whole lot of youth hunting success. Using the ground blinds was critical to the success of these turkey hunters.
Ideal Turkey Habitat
Turkeys aren’t too picky about their habitat preferences, but there are a few things that help make for a tremendous property. First, there should be numerous roost trees on your hunting land. Basically any tall, open-branched tree should do the trick, but typically these include oaks, some maples, and white or red pine trees. Waterways, including streams, ditches, rivers, or ponds, are also a vital habitat feature for turkeys. These waterbodies not only provide a critical drinking source for them, but also support healthy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous vegetation.
The next thing they need is a good feeding area to sustain them beyond what foraging for native plants or leftover mast (e.g., acorns, wild grape, crabapples) might provide. People might not realize it, but up to 90% of a turkey’s diet consists of plant matter. Turkeys love spring food plots for that very reason, with clover being one of the more common species preferred in the spring. They will forage on the fresh green leaves, but also key in on the newly emerging insects because of their high protein content. This makes clover plots attractive not only for deer, but also for turkey hunting.
Turkeys also prefer shorter-cropped or more open-growing vegetation as opposed to wading through dense long grasses (cool season grasses like reed canary). This type of growth is more difficult for hens with poults to travel through and reduces their visibility from predators. However, hens will still nest in areas with good side cover, provided it is within proximity to feeding areas, early successional habitat, open understory shrublands, or mature woodlands with little herbaceous growth.
Best Ground Blind Locations
Now that you’re familiar with where turkeys like to live, we’ll discuss some good spots for you to set up your ground blinds to maximize a shot opportunity. As we mentioned, even the best calling and turkey decoy placement won’t do much for you if you set up in a spot where turkeys naturally don’t like to go. You’ll be forcing them to go out of their way to come to you, and it’s a losing battle more often than not. On the other hand, if wild turkeys already prefer certain locations and you can set up adjacent to or between these areas, you’re not making them do anything different from their normal routine. The only difference is that there will be a sweet-talking hen decoy at their usual hangout. And that’s a recipe for success when you’re hunting for turkeys.
Open fields in the form of food plots, pastures, meadows, or hay fields draw turkeys during spring mornings to eat and toms will often choose one of these locations as a strutting zone. However, Eastern wild turkeys will rarely feel comfortable venturing into the center of large fields, and more often prefer openings smaller than 5 acres. Because of this tendency, you should focus your effort on the edges. Set up your Quantum ground blind on the edge of one of these fields, flanked by shrubs and trees to break up the outline further. The blind is surprisingly lightweight at only 11 pounds, and sets up in short order due to its spring steel frame. Place your decoys in the open field about 10 to 15 yards in front of your shooting window. Face the decoys quartering away from you in whatever direction you anticipate gobblers to come from.
A location that sets up similar to this includes smaller forest openings or recent clearcuts, but you need to make some adjustments to your strategy. Forest openings may be significantly smaller than open field settings, so you’ll be tucked in closer to the action. Take some time to brush in your ground blinds so that they blend in seamlessly with the surrounding cover. We’ll discuss that further below.
Another important area you should hunt is between roosting and feeding areas. You can often catch turkeys working their way from roost trees to the feeding areas in the early morning hours. After you’ve roosted a gobbler by using an owl or crow call, you’ll need to quickly get to your blind very stealthily. You should set some walking hen decoys out so that they’re facing the feeding area, and ideally use some fishing line to add a little movement to them. Once there’s enough shooting light, feel free to call aggressively using cuts and yelps with the occasional fighting purr tossed in. Calling spring gobblers isn’t as difficult as it seems if you stick to these three basic calls. That should convince almost any roosted tom to fly down and check it out.
If the morning hunts don’t work out in your favor, it’s not too late. Afternoon turkey hunting can also produce some exciting action, depending on the location you choose to hunt. First, realize that turkeys will get more cautious as they return to their roost trees, as they don’t want to attract the attention of a predator right before bedtime. As a result, dial down your calling efforts as the afternoon sun starts to dip lower in the sky. To still catch some good turkey action, set your ground blind up on a travel route between the feeding and roosting sites, but nearer to the food source where the gobblers will still eat and strut a bit before retiring for the day. One of the best afternoon turkey hunting tips is to not set up too close to the roost trees, because you’ll probably not hear them approach and you’ll disturb them when you leave for the night.
If you’re a deer hunter the anxiety is probably about to overtake you. Rain and sunshine are on its way, and you can’t help but get excited about putting in new food plots for deer season. Fresh turned over dirt, the tractor firing up, and a lush green mat gets even the season hunters and food plotters fired up, but hold keep a grip on that excitement for a little longer. Planning before you plant is more important than planting itself. We just recently went over the planning you should do before putting in a new food plot, touching on the importance of incorporating the plot into your hunting strategy. While this advice is key and true for installing new food plots, you shouldn’t overthink it. One of the most common reasons great food plot locations do not get planted, is there is not always a clear way to hunt it. We beg to differ, here are 3 key food plot locations that most food plotters miss, but with our help, can be great hunting locations for you.
Food Plot Architecture: Where to Place Your New Food Plot | Drury Outdoors
(Video) – DOD TV: food plots are vital to holding and killing whitetails, here are three tips for establishing new food plots.
Food Plot Location 1: Adjacent to a Bedding Area
Perhaps the best, most often missed food plot location that is not taken advantage of, are food plots adjacent to bedding areas. A small feeding plot within 50 -100 yards of a bedding area will be a perfect spot to ambush in a kill plot or staging area scenario. Why are these not planted?
Hunting opportunity and pressure are of big concern on these food plots. Finding and hunting a tree stand close enough to get a shot would be hard to get into and out of without busting deer. However, placing a ground blind or hunting blind just out of sight, or an elevated box blind distant form the plot, with the food plot still in sight, gives you a completely different scenario.
If you’re a serious hunter, you probably spend many collective hours in them; maybe even full weeks of each year. You’re perched in your tree stands every weekend from sunrise to sunset, from the last of the summer’s humidity and mosquitoes until the icy snowflakes cover the ground. That level of dedication takes some hard work. To accomplish this massive physical and mental feat, you need to absolutely know that your stand is safe to use. Why?
When you spend that much of your life in a tree, you’re exposed to some pretty severe risks. Over time, we get used to it and tend to forget just how great the threat is. We start to take things for granted and…boom. That’s when reality hits. In this case, reality is you falling from a poorly maintained tree stand and hitting the cold hard ground. Perhaps it’s you lying in the woods with several broken bones for hours until your family or friends come find you. Your new reality could be a life-altering event.
Now we don’t mean to depress or frighten you. But the truth is that tree stand accidents can be fatal if you’re not careful. In the blink of an eye, your decision to not check the straps or tighten the bolts could cost you and your family your life. No decision, especially one this trivial, is worth that price.
So in order to keep you out of that situation, here are some off-season tree stand maintenance actions you should do every year to ensure you come home again at the end of each hunt. They’re pretty simple and very much worth your time.
Types of Tree Stands
Gone are the days of nailing a couple 2×4 boards to some trees and perching in homemade deer hunting tree stands. While you still may find traces of these stands scattered throughout public lands, there are much better and safer ways to hunt these days. Take one quick look at a sporting goods store, and you’ll see several kinds of stands on the shelves that come in all different styles, sizes, and configurations. Generally, you’ll find a few dominant categories of hunting tree stands, including climbing tree stands, ladder stands, lock on stands, and tripods.
A climbing tree stand allows you to cover a lot of ground and get up in a tree fairly quickly. For that reason, they are probably one of the best deer hunting tree stands for public land. Ladder stands consist of a platform affixed to a section of ladders that you can prop against a tree and secure with straps or cables, and work best on private lands. Lock on stands work by securing a platform and seat up in a tree and then securing additional tree stand ladder sections to the tree itself. Tripod stands are self-standing units, usually with three legs and a base at the top for a hunter to sit on.
Big Game Treestands Presents – The Platinum Collection
(video)-Big Game Treestands Platinum collection is the next generation in ladder, climbing, and hang-on tree stands.
While it’s impossible to list every problem, here are a few common issues with tree stands that you’ll likely face at some point. Most ladder stands and lock on stands use ratchet straps or similar material straps to hold them in place. These tree stand ratchet straps deteriorate over time, especially if left outside in the weather and conditions, and can break unexpectedly. Squirrels or porcupines might also chew on them, causing them to easily snap once a load is put on them. And before they get to that point, they generally also loosen their grip. Climbing up into a tree is the last time you want to figure this out.
Another common problem with deer hunting tree stands made out of steel is rust. Even with proper care, metal stands made of these materials will likely develop rust at some point simply from being exposed during hunting season. As the paint chips and peels away, the exposed metal corrodes. You don’t want to let rust gain too good a foothold, or it will be difficult to remove and will eventually affect the stability and safety of your stand. Tree stands made of lighter weight aluminum also corrode over time, but the resulting corrosion actually protects the surface from further damage and therefore it isn’t much of a concern.
It Is March and once again the silence of winter slumber is broken by the sound of the tractor firing up. The feel, smell, and sight of dirty hands, diesel, and fresh dirt can be addicting to us, just as much if not more than turkey or deer hunting. It gets us excited and brings us satisfaction. There is nothing a hunter and manager would rather do more than climb up on the tractor, wipe the dust off the seat, and break open fresh ground, but is that really your smartest move? While it might feel like you are doing something positive you might want to think again, give it more time, more planning, and as a result, better execution. Don’t make the common mistake of creating a hunting strategy according to your food plots, when you should be planting spring food plots according to your hunting strategy! Implementing the latter of the two will create more opportunity, better hunting, and more success.
The first question to ask yourself is why are you planting the food plots? For nutritional purposes or for hunting in the situation of the “kill plot”? You can bet on the majority of hunters that plant food plots, are doing so to create hunting opportunities. So which of the following situations would make the most sense?
Option 1: Going to a chuck of timber or an old field and clearing it, breaking the ground, and planting beans or clover just to find out there isn’t a single place to put a box blind, tripod, or ground blind that a deer wouldn’t bust your wind or your entry in.
Option 2: Strategically mapping known deer movement, tree stand or blind sites, and previous observations, then taking that information to determine where, what type, and when a food plot would make sense in that area.
The choice is obvious, we understand that…and we know that if your planting a food plot you are already putting up stands or blinds in your mind. The problem lies in the fact that this thinking (not even enough to call it planning) happens when you are sitting on the tractor, or waiting for rain after planting. True, successful, well thought out plans for a food plot will only come from enough time being devoted to a map, scouting, past hunting observations, and more often than not, research on the subject. Here is some information that will help you out with your spring food plots, ensuring you are maximizing your efforts, time, and hard earned money.
Maps, Scouting, and Observations
Hopefully you took some time to shed hunt this winter, and took some notes down when you were out and about. Shed season was the perfect time to scout, you were not negatively impacting your deer season next year with the pressure, and deer sign was still fresh from November and December. Marking scrapes, rubs, funnels, highways, and bedding areas down on a map and coordinating that with hunting season observations give you a great idea of the daily movement that takes place on your property. When it comes to installing and planting food plots this spring, human pressure, staging areas and bedding areas are your biggest concern. Where are the deer, more importantly bucks bedding. Once a known bedding area is marked, next figure out when, where, and which type of food plot would make sense in the area. This is by far the most tedious part of effectively planning food plot strategy with your hunting strategy.
“Which type of food plot seed” depends on your “when”
The best advice in the situation, before diving into researching the when, where, and which type of food plot to plant, is to think about when you hunt, and what food sources are available during that time around the property. Are you a turkey hunter, a land manager, or a just a deer hunter? When you deer hunt do you hunt with a bow in the early season, or are you a gun hunter waiting on November and December? Each situation has its own, where, when, and which type of food plot you need.
If you’re the turkey hunter, the ideal food plot set up is creating a food source and strutting zone that you can effectively hunt with a ground blind. In these situation size isn’t as much an issue as what type of food there is. In the situation of turkey hunting in the spring, the best candidate for turkey hunting food plots in the spring is clover and alfalfa. Clover and alfalfa explode in spring, making not only valuable spring forage for deer, but dynamite feeding and strutting sites for turkeys.