Monday, April 06, 2015

Use A Boat To Hunt Turkeys

© By Othmar Vohringer

Click on image to enlarge.
Public land turkeys are not dumb, at least not the ones that survived two or three hunting seasons. When the hunting season opens and the first wave of hunters enter the turkey woods the big toms head for places that most hunters don’t go too. I learned that lesson a few years ago hunting in an Illinois state park. On one side the park borders run along a river that had a wide sandy beach interspersed with lush patches of grass and agricultural fields. It was from there I heard most gobbling occur in the mid-morning. The problem I faced to get to these birds was that there was no way to get to the gobblers without being detected by them.

What to do?

You've heard the saying; “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I had the will and I had the means. My will to get to these turkeys was by way of the river and the means to do that was my Lowe 1436 jon-boat.

Here is how you make hunting turkeys from a boat work.

Before we go any further it might be a good idea to advise you to read the hunting regulations before you use a boat to hunt turkeys. Not every U.S. State or Canadian province permits turkey hunting from a boat but in most cases you can use a boat to get into an area.

Look at a map:

I love Google maps and use them regularly for getting a birds-eye view of the area I intend to hunt. Arial maps show you the topography along the river shore and you can zoom in very close to the point where you can make out exact details in the landscape.
Look for potential strutting zones along shore line, such as strips of sand, agricultural fields and such (see image above where I outlined some possible strutting areas along the river shoreline).

On the water:

Get on the water before dawn, if you put the boat in upstream of the hunting area you can let the boat drift downstream, navigating with a paddle. If you put the boat in downstream of the hunting area use an electric trolling motor to navigate upstream. I don’t know if the noise from a gas outboard motor would spook turkeys, but I rather would not take that chance and prefer the silent approach. Stop frequently along the shoreline and use a locator call to elicit a gobble from a tom. During the mid-morning hours look for strutting gobblers along the shoreline too.

Get ready to hunt:

When you hear a tom gobble beach the boat quietly in a cove or around a river bend and sneak between the tom’s location and the mainland to block his way inland. Set up as close to the gobbler’s location as possible and start calling. If you spot turkeys on the shoreline, get ahead of them until you’re around a river bend or are otherwise be able to prevent the birds from seeing what you’re doing. Beach the boat quietly, grab your gear and loop back. Employ regular turkey hunting tactics as the situation requires.

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