How to Find Turkey Hunting Success on Public Land

  • Scouting, Listening, Tuning-In
  • State Game Lands can offer Best Hunt Days!

By Mike Joyner

With a full day’s rest from an epic road trip to Ohio, mother’s day morning hunt proved to be much a surprise in so many ways. Having spotted turkeys in farm fields below public game lands in Truxton, New York – in Cortland County, I thought I might give it a go for a few hours before having to pick up flowers I had on order.

I found myself running behind and arrived too late to just march into the woods without listening for a bit. On my way there I spotted no other vehicles in the usual places and none parked anywhere in the state forest I had decided on for the hunt.

Mid-season on a weekend you would expect a few trucks to be parked along the roads and especially on state game lands. I eased up to where I hoped to start my hunt and to my surprise that along with gobblers sounding off that I knew I would barely able to hear, I had a bird not only on my side of the road, but not 200 yards from the seasonal road. To my advantage a heavy fog had rolled in, and the birds were still on the roost.

Knowing the terrain between us, I was able to cut the distance to a hundred yards and settled up against a big old maple tree. Mind you the bird was gobbling every 60-90 seconds without any encouragement.

With a barely audible set of tree yelps the bird gobbled back with a triple gobble, and spun around to face me as the gobbling got much louder. You could hear him rattle from the tree limb.

Knowing that there would be hens 300-400 yards below the ridge I would space out any calling by only responding after 3-4 gobbles. Even then it was very light confidence calls. Well past fly down time, the gobbler stayed in the tree and I went silent for 15 minutes. I heard his gobble change, become more insistent, and got drowned out with just a few whines and clucks. With a short cackle and a few very light purrs I went silent again as we were past 6:30 and the fog had eased up. I heard better than 70 plus gobbles and was surmising he would call up hens from somewhere out on the ridge.

Just past 6:30 AM the gobbling ceased and I would hear him gobble far to my left and down the hill what sounded to be 200-250 yards and on to private property. After trying him several times I decided to move as far as I could out on a shelf and hoped I could maintain contact with the bird.

After several attempts he gobbled once to let me know he had sailed down a long ways down the ridge. Although gobbling could be heard from birds we had spotted the night before and over a quarter mile from me. My side of the road went quiet.

Although I heard a change in his gobbling, nothing came of it until I made my next series of soft calls. The tom blasted out a gobble well under a hundred yards from me, and what I thought to be closing fast. Thirty seconds later along the edge of the shelf I was set up on, the familiar bright colors of a gobblers head bounced up and down as he ran up along the path he had chosen. At twenty five yards his head came up one last time as I squeezed the trigger.

The entire hunt lasted a little more than an hour and twenty minutes, with a ton of gobbling and a gobbler after all said and done that ran back up the hill in one big hurry. All in all, a very memorable hunt. Every bit as fast and furious as any hunt I have had on private property. It was a very short walk back up the hill to the truck.

I did make it in time to pick up the flowers and spend the rest of the day with my bride and in remembrance of the important women in my life.

© 2018 Mike Joyner- Joyner Outdoor Media