Long Beards with a Bow
By Ryan Yaskiw
Figure 1″Photo” Ryan Yaskiw, Trevor Boake, and Melissa Friestad. This was the first hunt Melissa was ever on.
I will be honest; turkey hunting is what you make it. Lots of turkey hunters here in Manitoba Canada just “wing” it, often shooting birds just after they jump off the roost. Or by hunting them right in farm yards where the birds are conditioned to humans. While I have done both of these things in the past, in recent years I have chosen to take a more sporting approach by scouting, then hunting the birds much the same as one does for whitetails.
I also enjoy running and gunning, looking for active birds much the same as one would hunt bull elk during the rut. Both tactics have their time and place.
Observe, Plan, Prepare AND then Hunt.
This particular tactic is by far and away my favorite! However, it takes a high level of commitment both financially and mentally. I am sure most of us have scouted out a giant whitetail or Mule deer over the span of weeks, and then slipped in to attempt the kill. Well, this tactic has some of that type of scouting and dedication. Now we are scouting a specific Tom turkey or group.
I love to watch wildlife, and I always take notes on what, when and where I observe wildlife . This always pays off when I consider where I hunt or plan on hunting. Going back over these notes one will often notice tendencies, regardless of species.
Such was the case on one particular farm I hunt turkeys on. For years before and during the hunting seasons I watched the birds jump off the roosts first thing in the morning, then linger in the farm yard for an hour and a half before feeding out into the fields.
They would then feed eastwards towards a cattle water tank where they would drink and dust off in the mid-morning sun. So in 2010 I got smart. A friend and I set up a makeshift ground blind in some old abandoned farm equipment. The plan was we would slip in early and wait for the birds to follow their daily tendencies.
Opening day I was up as shooter, he was acting as cameraman. At 10:20 the flock of birds worked passed us at 20 yards…… if one hen had not spotted me draw my bow, I would have scored on a beast of a tom. But that was okay as it seemed the birds didn’t really know what happened.
We slipped in the next morning and the turkeys showed up right on time, 10:30. Trevor passed on a handful of good toms before he drove a Rage broadhead into the biggest turkey I have ever seen. The hunt worked to perfection, but there were definitely some little things we did that turned the tables in our favor.
Figure 2″Photo” A Rage broadhead that was used to harvest a great Spring Gobbler.
The first thing to remember is turkeys do not like to walk through thick timber. This eliminated the chances of birds going behind us, as the timber was a mess of oaks and buck brush.
I also like to use small patches of timber to block the turkeys vision. I will set up on the away side of the brush then let the turkeys walk past me. We also set decoys up 60 yards to the east of our blind, this was to draw the attention of the birds away from our position. This gives the hunter more of a chance to draw undetected, a very difficult thing to do with turkeys. All the toms that morning were literally heading straight to the decoys and completely missed us in our blind and Trevor was able to draw undetected.
Great places to set up blind ambushes are along cut trails, fence lines, dusting holes and fields the birds feed in. I have had success sitting in these types of set ups all day. One tom I shot required all day sits over a four-day span in the same blind.
This is where my style of turkey hunting can get tough mentally. You have to be ready for the long haul, and have things on hand to keep your mind occupied. Things such as books, movies on a smart phone and so on. Another side to the mental aspect is to be comfortable physically. A comfortable chair, a good lunch and a thermos of coffee or tea can go a long way to help a person put the time equity needed to score on a turkey using a bow.
Figure 3″Photo” Ryan Yaskiw and one of his Spring Gobblers taken with his compound bow. Congratulations Ryan!
That basically is my favorite tactic for spring thunder chickens, I hope it helps someone score on their first bird with archery gear this year. Good luck and be safe.