SPOT & STALK TURKEY HUNTING

  • Effective, but BE VERY CAREFUL
  • Recommended ONLY ON PRIVATE, SECURED LAND
  • Tactics & Techniques

By Tyer Mahoney

When everything goes right, your stalk the long way around to expected turkey location is rewarded.

Heavy rain and wind can put the turkeys in a funk where they don’t gobble or respond to calls.  Severe rain can wash out nests, which means hens must breed again, thus prolonging the “henned up” effect every turkey hunter dreads.  Other times, such as late season, gobblers can be plain uncooperative and won’t investigate decoys or your calling.

So what do you do?

Simple.  It’s time to get on your feet and close the distance.  Although it’s not quite the same as a strutting tom marching into your decoys, spot and stalk turkey hunting can be just as exciting and rewarding, though your safety is of key interest in manner of hunting.

I have enjoyed much success stalking turkeys on secure, private land, but learned the most from my failures.  Whether you are by yourself or with a hunting partner, I have learned several strategies to follow when you begin your stalk.

Before you begin any spot and stalk, be sure of your surroundings and possible hunters that may be in your area.  I highly recommend you only do this on private land.

SPOTTING

This might seem like the easy part, but there are several factors you must keep in mind.

First, turkeys always find a way to be where you least expect.  As you approach your glassing point, stay in cover and below the line of sight of the area you think may have turkeys.  Always abide by the rule that if you can see out in the field, then whatever is out there can see you.

Also, stay in the shadows as much as possible, which should be relatively easy if you have good timber.  Ideally, you will make your way to a spot where you can see a good distance across a field that may be a strutting zone.  Along with a large field of view, your glassing point should be accessible to a good route to make your stalk.

Next, move slowly until you spot your bird.  One of the biggest mistakes I have made is quickly glancing across a field, seeing nothing, and then hustling to my next viewing area.  It is only then I realize I’ve spooked a strutting tom standing below a rise in the field I could not see from my first position.

Many people hunt from a blind to start their day.  If you’re like me, you have had plenty of times where birds hang up in the distance or won’t commit because they are with hens.  During set-up, be sure to position your blind so the entrance is facing away from where the turkeys are likely to be located.  In case you need to close the distance on foot, that allows you to exit your blind into cover without disturbing the turkeys.

STALKING

Once you have eyes on a gobbler, the fun part begins.  You will proceed with many of the same strategies you used to spot him.

Stalking works best in certain conditions.  After a rain or in the early morning when everything is still damp, you can move much quieter.  In addition, use the wind to your advantage.  If you must cover a large distance quickly, move as far as you can when the wind picks up and stop when it dies down again. And remember the golden rule, if you are in sight of the field, whatever is in the field can see you too. Stay below their line of sight!

If your turkey is on the move, always take the long way around to get out in front.  It might be more work, but I have failed most of the time when I tried to take the most direct route to the birds.  Taking the long way around allows you to stay in better cover and leaves more room for error on your part.  For example, you will inevitably step on a fallen branch in your haste.  If you’ve maintained a wide circle, inadvertent noises or movement shouldn’t spook the turkey.

As you get closer, you will more than likely lose sight of the birds at times.  When you stop to check the position of your gobbler, be sure you are next to a large tree or thick brush.  This will allow you to hide quickly in case he surprises you.

SHOOTING

If you follow the above guidelines, you will most likely end up with a shot opportunity.  You can always increase your chances by carrying a turkey fan with you as well.  Pop that up in front of you, in sight of the tom and many times he will close the distance running right at you!

Most importantly, remember to use the rules of hunter safety and to always be aware of your surroundings!

Spot and stalk is best done in an area where you are certain no other hunters are around.  In some parts of the country, this manner of hunting is not permitted.

Good luck and happy stalking!