Friday, March 13, 2015

Hunting Turkeys In High Elevations

© By Othmar Vohringer

Hunting alpine turkeys is different from hunting lowland turkeys. The first thing you will notice in the alpines is that birds are much more scattered throughout the landscape than you would encounter in the lowlands. Flocks of alpine turkeys are much smaller too. While it is common in some lowland areas to encounter turkey flocks of up to 60 birds their alpine cousins prefer to live in small flocks that number seldom more than ten.

High-country turkeys can be amazingly adaptable. There are records of turkey sightings as high up as10,000 ft. above sea level traversing steep mountain slopes and traveling many miles between feeding and roosting sites. If you ever feel the urge to pursue Merriam’s wild turkeys in the alpines here are a few tips to keep in mind.

In the mountains turkeys use canyons, saddles, gentle slopes and other features in the terrain that permit them relative ease of travel. Key in on these features and look there for turkey sign.

On the sunny side:
In the spring nights still can be frosty and days are cool. High-country turkeys don’t like frost and cold, therefore they prefer to travel on the sunlit side of a canyon and that is the side you want to set up when calling. In the morning the sunny side of the canyons and other depressions are on the northern side.

Be mindful of the wind:
In the mountains it is almost always windy. In the morning the winds are uphill as cold air rises and in the afternoon, as the air cools off the winds blow downhill. Keep the prevailing winds in mind when you call or use locater calls. Turkeys will hear your calls much better if you call with the prevailing wind then against it.

Use optics:
In the wide open country of the alpines and mountains you can save a lot of walking time with a set of quality binoculars or spotting scopes. I like to get high up in the morning and glass the landscape below me for traveling turkeys.

Call the tom uphill:
In my experience and from what I heard from other mountain turkey hunters, it seems that toms are much more responsive to calls if they can approach uphill, rather than having to come downhill to the calls. Of course there are exceptions to this, but still many hunters seem to have better luck coaxing a bird uphill than downhill, something to keep in mind when you set up on a gobbler.

Get a rest:
In the alpines and mountains is not always possible to rest your gun on your knees to steady the gun for a good killing shot. A gun rest comes in very heady in these situations. I use wooden cross-sticks that I made myself, they also serve as a very sturdy hiking stick in steep country.

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