Pro-staff Contributor: Brian Cote
Whenever I have conversations with others about turkey hunting, they constantly say, “How hard could it be? Turkeys are dumb.” In some cases this holds true, but in reality many pieces of the puzzle have to fall into place to make it seem as though turkeys require little-to-no effort to punch your tag. I myself don’t believe in a “dumb” turkey. While hunting the Midwest region, I’ve learned that many gobblers will do things you’ve never heard of before.
Two weeks ago, we targeted an area in Wisconsin that had not been hunted for many years—the scouting reports looked great. When getting set up under the cover of darkness, multiple toms broke the morning silence and let us know they were awake. We were set up no more than 100 yards from their roost and I was optimistic. As the day became brighter and many more critters were making their presence known, the birds continued to gobble and the hens began yelping and clucking. But even though the gobblers were responding quite often to our calls, around an hour after daybreak, it was quiet throughout the woods. We made a game plan to get mobile and try to find them again.
After some searching we heard the birds gobble once more and eased closer. Then to our amazement, we spotted the group of birds walking across a bog, headed towards some thick tamarack swamp area. My good friend and I stood and stared at each other in awe trying to figure out why they were there. What would cause them to cross a creek and head towards some of the thickest swamp around? We couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t go to open timber or nearby cornfields. As we headed back to the truck we talked about our game plan for the next day.
Day two started off a lot quieter than day one. As we were trying to decide where to set up, I noticed a big black object in the top of a Tamarack tree, out in the middle of the bog. I thought to myself, “Could that be a turkey?” Then the object began to move and a thunderous gobble lit up the swamp. Again, this bird threw us for a loop. Why was this tom all by himself in the middle of a bog? Could it be he knew that most of the predators that prey on him would not be able to reach him there? Did he know that he was being pressured by us? For birds that are rumored to be an easy kill—this flock was putting up a challenge!
With this odd behavior, we were unsure of where we should set, so we decided it’d be safe to set up near the place we saw the birds on the previous day. We set out our Avian X LCD Jake Quarter Strut along with the Avian X LCD Lookout Hen to try to pull a gobbler into shooting range. As the morning went on, the sounds of distant gobblers kept us optimistic. Then I glanced to the left of our set and noticed a bird working our way. It was a tom, and he came in without making a sound. I let my buddy know and he called softly and the bird let out a gobble that shook the woods. I was ready for the shot when the bird started walking out of range. He snuck away to some private property just as quietly as he came!
Unfortunately, we concluded the weekend without success. But we did take home a few lessons. I learned that swamp turkeys are very unpredictable and by far the hardest type of birds I have ever tried to bag. Even when you think you know their roost patterns, they can change overnight. I also learned to always scan the woods for silent birds that may sneak in under your radar. No matter what anyone says about turkey hunting I think that every bird has its own personality and will react differently from another. For that reason, I don’t think any turkey is dumb, just unique.
Brian Cote is a website administrator at krugerfarms.com and a devoted outdoorsman. He’s eager to take up any opportunity to hunt waterfowl, deer and turkeys in the Midwest region. You can follow him on Twitter (@BrianJr22) and find him on Facebook (facebook.com/brian.cote.148).