© By Othmar Vohringer
Here is a question I received in the email from a hunter who visited my recent turkey hunting seminar. I would like to share the question and my answer with you because it’s a frequently asked question. The hunter described the following situation.
“I have permission to hunt turkeys on a farm which borders onto a river bottom. On the other side of the 20 to 30 foot wide river is a rocky hillside populated with lots of tall pine trees with open spaces in between, ideal turkey roosting area with easy access to the river bottom. However, there seems to be little food on that side of the river, whereas the farmland has many crop fields. To access the farm fields the turkeys would have to fly across the river. My question is would the turkeys do that provided they roost on the hill side?”
The short answer to this question is; although turkeys can fly quite long distances they do not like to across rivers, canyons and other barriers if they can help it. Unfortunately the hunter did not tell me if he has seen turkeys on the farm or on the rocky hillside. Without knowing this vital fact I was left no choice but to answer the obvious.
Scout both sides of the river, the farm and the rocky hillside, for turkey sign and turkeys present. While turkeys prefer to roost in tall trees on a hill or ridge top they have no hesitation to roost is a river bottom if there are suitable trees available. I suggested to the hunter to check out the river bottom on the farm side of the river and if there are tall trees it is quite likely that the turkeys will use the farm as roosting, strutting and feeding area.
The hunter also should check out the rocky hillside. If that area provides the turkeys with everything they need there is no need for them to fly across the river to access the farm. With the rocky hillside also bordering onto the river bottom it is very likely that the birds find enough food there.
As I said earlier, turkeys do not like to cross any sort of barrier. This is something to consider when you set up on turkeys and call them. Make sure that there are no barriers that prevent the birds from coming to your calling. I had this happen a few years ago. I called a tom and when he came in he just paced back and forth below a little dip in the landscape. After about an hour of calling the tom finally gave up and walked away. When I checked the area where the gobbler paced I found that that little dip was a small and shallow creek not much wider then a couple of feet. The tom could have easily hopped over it but he didn’t.
Barriers come in many forms and we need to be aware of it before we set up. At another occasion a tom refused to cross a cattle fence although all he had to do is tuck his noggin in a bit and walk right under the wire to cross the fence. Downed trees are another barrier that turkeys don’t like and so are roads, thickets, the above mentioned creeks but also sloughs and many other features.
This brings to mind how important it is to scout and get familiar not only with the resident turkey population but also with the lay of the land and how the birds navigate that area.
Scouting - Turkey Sign
The Ultimate Turkey camouflage
Top 11 Turkey Hunting Tips
For more information about my turkey hunting seminars and courses visit:
Othmar Vohringer Outdoors