John's Journal...

Setting Up on Gobbling Turkeys to Hunt More Efficiently

Day 1: How to Set Up on Turkeys

Click for Larger ViewThe most-important consideration when deciding where to set-up to call-in a gobbler is to know where a turkey doesn’t want to walk. A gobbler prefers not to…

…get his feet wet by crossing water.
…fly across water.
…walk through heavy cover or downhill.
…walk under a fence or fly over it.
…move into an area where he’s encountered danger previously.
…go into a region where he thinks another gobbler will beat him in a fight.

If a sportsman sets-up in any of these areas and tries to call-in a gobbler, chances are good that the bird won’t come to him. However, there are places a turkey enjoys walking. He is very apt to walk in clean woods with little underbrush and in fields where he can see for great distances. He’ll also walk on flat ground whenever possible.

Too, a turkey follows a regular routine. He’s like the old man down the street who goes by the barber shop at 8:15 am, stops at a hardware store to find-out if anyone’s sick, dead or just married, swings by the coffee shop to pick-up a newspaper and a sweet roll and then moves on to the fire station for a game of dominoes. You can set your watch by that old man.

Well, you also can set your watch by an old gobbler in the spring. That bird has a set routine as predictable as the man down the street. Figure out that pattern, and you’ll probably bag the bird. He’ll roost in the same tree, fly-down in the same direction, try to mate in his strutting zones and feed in the same fields. Once you know the routine, then you need to plan the setup.

What’s the Typical Set-Up for Hunting Turkeys

Click for Larger ViewOne of the problems that a novice hunter has when setting-up on gobblers is that he attempts to get too close to the turkey. The result is that the bird spots the hunter and moves out of that region well before the hunter even tries to call to him. Most often, this happens when a turkey gobbles in the direction of a hunter, turns-around on the limb, faces the opposite direction and gobbles away from the hunter. The bird then sounds farther away than he actually is. A good rule of thumb is to always set-up farther away from the bird than you think you should.

When, Why and Why Not to Change Locations

Click for Larger ViewAlthough a turkey is sometimes taken on the first setup, that’s by no means typical. More often than not, the hunter must set up two or three times to call a turkey. Successfully changing calling locations is tricky, but the most-important concern is to know when to move and when to sit still. Many hunters spook turkeys when, after a few minutes of calling, the birds don‘t come in, so the hunter gets up and moves to another location. Often, the hesitant gobbler is spooked by the impatient hunter.

There are times, however, when the hunter must move or else he won’t get a gobbler. Maybe there’s a creek or ditch of which he’s not aware. Perhaps the gobbler has encountered some hens and started to walk-out of the area. The turkey may be call-shy, because of other hunter encounters. Or, the ole bird may just be ornery and decide, “If that hen wants to be bred, she’ll have to come find me.”

Click for Larger ViewWhen you move from spot to spot, change calls. Hopefully, the gobbler will think that there’s yet another hen that’s out looking for him. Sometimes, an aggressive hunter will change his position several times. But by moving, he often spooks the tom. Experienced hunters say that patience bags more gobblers than running and gunning.

To learn more about how to hunt turkeys, click here, or visit, and type in the name of John E. Phillips’ latest turkey-hunting book, “Turkey Hunting Tactics,” that’s now available from Kindle books and contains information on all aspects of turkey hunting, including: how to set up on turkeys; how to hunt turkeys; what equipment is best; what’s the differences in western and eastern turkey hunting and how that influences the way you hunt and more.

Tomorrow: How to Set Up on a Gobbler Turkey with Hens

Check back each day this week for more about "Setting Up on Gobbling Turkeys to Hunt More Efficiently "

Day 1: How to Set Up on Turkeys
Day 2: How to Set Up on a Gobbler Turkey with Hens
Day 3: How to Set-Up on and Hunt a Turkey that’s Across the Water
Day 4: How to Set Up on Turkeys Strutting in the Field and Walking and Talking to Hunt Them
Day 5: How to Set Up When Hunting Hung Up Turkeys and for Two Hunters on One Tom Turkey

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Entry 659, Day 1