By Bruster Beaty
Turkey hunting….by far my favorite species of game to chase! The challenge these non-domesticated, Thanksgiving table fare provide; is what continuously draws me from pillow and quilt to the strategic battle that invariably will be undertaken. As any early morning “brush stumbler” has discovered, these “strut studs” often tend to cast a comedic resolve to our best intentions!
I’ve often heard, around the Camp’s fire-ring, that these boogers make for highly intelligent adversaries. To this, I quaff! I bring to the “ring” the fact that to coincide with their beanie size noggins, their skulls only hold a limited amount of space. Included in this space are: two eyes, two ears, and one brain. Said brain must be extremely small to fit in the cavity not taken up by “peepers” and “audible receivers”!
What I have learned these critters do possess, are the unbelievable abilities to use those “peepers” and “receivers” to detect unwanted additions to their environment. Any out of the ordinary movement or sound sets in motion an unequaled departure from their norm. Unlike their nature dwelling partners, the Whitetail deer, these strategic commanders don’t exit, stop after a bit, and look back to see what prompted their instinctive reaction. Simply put….they are gone, and it takes a bit of knowledge and luck for the “brush hugger” to get another opportunity at this bird, on this day!
Over nearly four decades of matching tactics with these magnificent birds, I have made many adjustments to my approaches and have found one that is fun and, more often than not, rewarding.
Having spent countless hours perched in tree-stands, in pursuit of Whitetails, it seemed I saw an amazing number of “Turks” casually strolling beneath my elevated positions. Seldom, if ever, did they make the effort to look up! Thus was born another Nimrod strategy to add to my dark feathered harvesting “bag of tricks”.
Many turkey hunting purists may raise their noses to such suggestions as leaving solid earth to punch that pocket-filling tag. For the most part, I still choose to use the more conventional methods to grass my birds. However, I have simply found there are a few advantages to gaining a bit of elevation when needed and available. These advantages include, but are not limited to, the following:
I found it more of a challenge to place my aging and “lumpy” frame in a comfortable position, for an extended period of time, while stationed at the base of a tree. Foam pads and/or stools do help, but my “pins” sometimes have a tendency to take a stinging nap, seemingly just as “Mr. Gobble” shows up. This makes for, following a successful release of an arrow or tickle of the trigger, quite the wobbly dash to retrieve my quarry! Tree stands usually offer plenty of leg-room and no sticks, thorns, rocks, roots, etc. that have a tendency to take up residency under my ground caressing, rather plump posterior!
There is no question that raising one’s line of sight extends the terrain and our ability to spy what may be, otherwise, out of sight. Seeing the incoming target greatly adds to the odds swinging in our favor.
As mentioned earlier, I have found these motion and sound detecting creatures have a tendency to concentrate on ground-level adversaries. This, in no way, lends itself to the pursuant being afforded the opportunity to whistle a tune or partake in upper-body exercises. Elevation does, however, tend to be a bit more forgiving in the sense of the hunter’s movements.
Elevated, homemade or manufactured, hard-sided hunting blinds with windows and roofs; are extremely effective in the battle to fill the vest with meat. Just as they give the hunter a distinct advantage in the quest for venison, the same holds true for my beloved “Turks”. The movement and, for the most part, sound aspects of the equation are virtually eliminated. There have been numerous early morning ventures into the wild in which I have been welcomed by a shower or hard rain. It seldom fails that, if I am situated in one of these structures when the weather clears….I find myself high and dry.
As there are advantages to this approach, also in the mix are a few disadvantages:
With the aerial assault, it pretty much goes without saying that one is tremendously limited as to where the “set-up” is located. There is also the elimination of the extreme enjoyment of matching wits, eye to eye, with such a magnificent creature….on his terms. Few outdoor endeavors hold the level of satisfaction achieved by pursuing and harvesting a wily “thunder chicken” using the age old methods we have practiced in the past.
Especially true during the spring season, the odds of success using this method drastically increase when the hunter is perched on the edge of a timber. A known clearing, supplying an established food source frequented first thing in the morning, works best. Also, locating a strutting zone enhances the opportunity for a successful hunt. The challenge here is that to place a tower or tree stand strictly for turkey hunting really doesn’t make much sense. I use the elevated approach solely as an alternative method as the seasons progress and my animate targets become more and more suspect. The “perches” have always been primarily set for use during my deer hunting.
The use of decoys and calls remain the “go to” practice. With this is mind, be sure to place the “imposters” at a distance from your position, as to offer a minimal shot angle. By so doing, there will be less need for movement on the part of the pursuer.
Using a tree stand when turkey hunting will most certainly change your shot angle. Unlike the normally flat shot angle when sitting on the ground, once you elevate your shot angle will steepen. While this isn’t that big of deal it is something you should be aware of. Proper practice before the season from elevated heights with your chosen weapon is a must if you wish to hunt turkeys from above.
And so, it is with great anticipation, I look to the upcoming turkey season. Knowing I have several elevated “aces up my sleeve” when the traditional methods turn their backs to me, gives me the belief that to “Get High For Turkeys” just may pay-off.