North Florida turkey hunting began its five-week season yesterday, and Georgia’s statewide season gets underway next weekend and runs through May 15.

 

And as most gobbler gunners know, attention to dozens of details go into successful spring turkey hunting.


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And one of the most important aspects of bagging a big bird is beginning right.

The following five perfect calling sites have been chosen by some champion hunters who’ve witnessed first-hand how ideal these locations are for drawing a tom to shotgun range when hunting near fields.

Eddie Salter, Creekside Field Edge

One great spot champion Alabama turkey caller and hunter Eddie Salter has found for drawing birds to a field within shotgun range is available in much gobbler country.

He likes a field having a perimeter creek within 100 yards of the edge of the planted ground. Turkeys often roost near the creek, between the draw and field.

Such places are plentiful in woods-fringe farm country, as farmers plow ground near creeks but leave cover alongside streams because it’s not suitable for planting. Hardwoods bordering a creek beside a field are choice turkey roosts because they’re over or near water and close to food in the field.

After having located birds on their near-creek roost, Salter slips into the woods, at the far corner of a field. He begins calling from a spot midway between the creek and field. If turkeys respond to his calling, Eddie sets up so he can shoot the field edge, as well as the woods. The deep creek keeps birds from crossing wide, and they “funnel” toward him in the timber, alongside the field.

Chris Kirby, Ridge-Side Field Edge

Champion caller and top hunter Chris Kirby, with Quaker Boy Game Calls, is used to chasing turkeys over hilly, rolling terrain. While gunning big birds in the “hills” can be challenging, Chris relishes it, because he’s learned to use rugged terrain features to his advantage, especially where there are highland fields.

“In much hill country, anything flat is turned into a farm field, so a lot of the surrounding land is hilly,” he says. “Find a field bordered by hills and stair-step ‘benches’ of rolling land, and you can use the terrain to ‘funnel’ turkeys your way when calling.”

An ideal situation is to locate a roosted tom in timber on a field edge adjacent to hills. Chris sets up his calling position about 150 yards away from the tom, near the field, in woods just below a ridge of rolling timber climbing above the field. Often there is a “bench” beside such fields, which Chris uses as his advantage in calling to a tom.

“I set up within shooting range of the field, but I want to be near the steep bank of the hillside overlooking the field so I can cover the first ‘bench’ or high ground above the field,” he explains. “The steep bank or bench sort of funnels a tom my way from his position on a roost. He may walk the field my way, or come through the woods. Either way, I should be in shotgun range when he works to my calling.”

Matt Morrett, Field Corners and Turns

Pennsylvania champion caller and hunter Matt Morrett loves to begin calling a field from a corner position. Turkeys, like deer, often enter and leave a field from corners, so calling from such a spot is a natural event. Another plus for beginning a hunt by calling at a corner is a hunter has the opportunity to move along two perimeters of a field should it prove necessary to shift locations for birds in the field, or in timber adjacent to it.

Another choice place to begin field calling, says Matt, is a field “turn,” which is an area set back from the main part of the field. Such a spot is prime because a hunter’s calling location is hidden from turkeys in the field or on the field edge until they work within shotgun range. By keeping out of sight of a tom until its within shooting distance of the calling location is a great way to dupe big birds.

Jake Markris, Field Ditchline

Well-known Alabama turkey hunter Jake Markris learned that in big agricultural fields there frequently is a ditch or creek line separating different fields, chiefly for irrigation. In many such situations, the ditch ends or has a farm machinery “cross over” at one end or the other, often on the field edge near a tree line.

An ideal setup is for one end of the ditch line to abut mature timber where turkeys roost. At the opposite end of the ditch line, where it “ends” or where there’s a farm machinery “cross over,” is where Jake begins his daybreak calling.

By positioning himself in the cover at the end of the ditch, he can move or turn his shotgun attention to one field or the other, depending on which field the turkeys fly into.

Often, says Jake, birds pitch down into both fields, thus giving him the advantage of calling to different toms in each group. Birds in such a situation don’t get together because of the ditch. If they want to join, they must walk to the ditch end, which is where Jake is located and calling.

He often sets decoys in each field within shotgun range of his blind to help pull birds close from long range. Aggressive calling helps, too, he adds.

Ernie Calandrelli, Field Bottlenecks

Turkeys found in big, sprawling fields can be tough to call within shotgun because they know they’re secure in such wide-open spaces. That’s why when veteran turkey hunter and calling champion Ernie Calandrelli hunts big fields, he keys in on bottlenecks, which is where he begins his calling.

“Most fields have some type of bottleneck, a ‘pinched down’ area between a ditch and a road, for example, or a place where a creek and mature woods or a CRP field diminish the width of the field,” he explains. “I set up my calling in cover beside the bottleneck and try to set decoys in the field within shotgun range. Turkeys can see decoys from a long way, and while they may know they’re secure 200 yards out in the field, as they work closer to my calling and decoys, they’re also working into the bottleneck and within shotgun range of the cover.”