The Secret Is Out For Gobbler Success This Spring

Jake Mattern is pictured setting up a pop-up blind for this spring turkey season.

Submitted photo

The secret to being successful, that has taken years to be uncovered in the spring gobbler woods, is finally out. Staying hidden is the secret.

OK, many know this secret but did you all know that a wild turkey, the kind we eat, can see 270 degrees. That field of view along with a sense that everything in your world is trying to eat you, means the wild turkey is critter that is very cautious.

There are many important parts of hunting spring turkeys but the major part of success is staying hidden. In today’s world there are many ways to do that, but the one that has been gaining popularity is portable blinds.

Ground blinds are a great way to set up for spring turkeys, especially if you are up for an all-day sit, hunting with a new hunter, or have spooked birds in the past. They are quick and portable and provide great cover to hide hunters and help with movement during the hunt. They are equally effective for shotgun, bow or crossbow hunters, with specific designs to accommodate a wide variety of equipment. They hide hunter movement, provide protection from the elements and allow you to access extra gear without spooking eagle-eyed turkeys.

Knowing where and how to set up a blind is an art form and when done correctly and puts the hunter at a distinct advantage. Try choosing a blind location at a strutting zone, field edges or open wood areas, being sure to blend the blind into the surroundings and set up in the direction that turkeys are likely to come. Setting up a new object in the woods can be compared to having something new in your neighborhood and for a turkey’s its even more so.

Spring longbeards are always hard to deceive, and setting up a blind long before you plan to hunt from it will maximize its effectiveness. While deer will avoid new objects in their area until they are proven safe, spring turkeys seem to be more forgiving of new things. Setting up your blind a couple of weeks before the season is always the best. Setting up early allows the new smells and outlines to become part of the environment.

When you can’t set up in advance, be sure to place the blind where it isn’t obvious. Forget the edge of the field and get it inside the tree line for better concealment. If you’ve done any homework about the area, you will have an idea of turkey movements and patterns. This will help with placement but if one setup doesn’t work it is always easy to move.

Don’t just settle for a blind set up on a fence line or ridge top or in a strip of trees. Blend it into the environment with brush, grass or whatever natural vegetation is handy. Most quality blinds have straps or cords to attach natural camouflage and help your blind disappear. Fresh-cut tree limbs and bunches of grass or leaves are also useful. Some blinds come with carbon-odor suppressors, but there are still smells from manufacturing, packaging and travel that take time to dissipate. The best way to make your blind scent free is to leave it set up outdoors in the elements. Over time it becomes part of the habitat in both sight and smell.

If you can’t get it out into the field, set it up in your backyard so it can air out and not smell like the hold of a cargo ship. It will work better if it gets rained on a few times and the sun has a chance to heat the fabric. The more time outside, the better.

A spring turkey has eyesight that is five times better than a human, for me that probably 10 times better. They see any movement, bright objects or shining faces. Even in a blind I prefer to make sure face masks are worn. If the early morning sun is shining on your face, you will glow like a light bulb when looking out of the windows. This might mean setting up different blinds for hunting the morning and evening, depending which way the sun is coming up.

Dress in dark clothing to take advantage of the dark cave you are creating. Wear a facemask or put on some camo makeup to gain yet another advantage.

One of the biggest mistakes hunters make when using ground blinds is pigeonholing themselves by setting up in a spot with limited visibility and a single shooting lane. By the time you actually see a turkey, you never have time to react, field judge, and get your rifle or bow into position before they are gone.

Strutting areas can be great locations to set up, especially during the first part of the season when the breeding is hot and heavy. A good food plot or agricultural field with high-protein feed is sure to attract both hens and gobblers. Having the hens come to feed on a regular basis is a sure way to get a mature longbeard to come to your ambush.

One of the biggest issues I hear every season is the birds aren’t talking, but hunting from pop-up blind allows the opportunity to be mobile, comfortable and hidden. The best way to find your next honey is by being able to change locations easily. The price of blinds has come down and they are worth the investment. Once you have fallen in love with the blind hunting you can step up to a better model and enjoy and lifetime of success.

The local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Chautauqua Lake Chapter of the NWTF, is holding its annual fundraising banquet Sunday, April 28 at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club. If you all have never been to NTWF banquet you are missing a great time. For tickets and more information call Charles Youngberg at 499-2726 or Lisa at 640-2452.