If turkeys are not gobbling, moving, or in any way detectible, how do you hunt them and salvage your season? In this episode I dig into the details of how to hunt gobblers when all else fails.

If turkeys are gobbling and not coming in that is one set of challenges, but this is different. This is when all the turkeys seem to completely disappear from the woods and you cannot find any action anywhere. I’ve been there. The answer is simple, but not easy. You have to change your mindset and your tactics from turkey hunting to turkey finding.

Set out looking for birds and sign, similar to pre-season scouting but unique in that you are looking for concentrated movement areas that you can then setup in as if you were ambush hunting. I like to start in the low lands, where there are streams, puddles and soft ground where turkeys will leave tracks. I am not just looking for a stray track here and there but lots of regular fresh tracks that will let me know that lots of birds come through this area on a regular basis and spend time eating, socializing, or trying to find mates in this spot.

The goal of this scouting is to locate areas that have birds that you can come back and hunt, but you also want to move quietly. After all the season is on and you have a shotgun, you do not want to disturb the birds that you discover since you plan to hunt them that day or the next. Instead you want to move quietly, gun in hand but being careful to analyze the ground and watching for turkeys on the other side of every hill you crest and every field you move into.

When nothing is working, you come to feel like there are no birds in the woods and it can be very discouraging, but if you can find the birds, and fresh sign, it will put wind in your sails and motivate you to get out and get after the birds. 

Also keep in mind that as the season goes on, the habits of birds can change. As one area grows up it may push birds into other areas. So a spot that is cold today could warm up in a week or two or three. Do not abandon historically good areas but diversify where you spend your time. Perhaps rotate between spots in order to keep on top of places that might heat up later but do not spend your entire turkey season in a spot with no action.

Listen to the whole podcast episode for all of the details!

Clover is one of the best plantings for a new hunter when it comes to deer and turkey hunting. It is easy, fast, inexpensive, does not require big equipment, and grows back every year. On this episode I talk about the benefits and easiest ways new hunters can plant clover as a food plot.

Take Aways

  • Whitetail Institute Imperial Clover is the gold standard that all clover is measured against. You can get started with a microplot for about $20.
  • There are way cheaper clover options though. If you go to your local AG store you can often get white clover by the pound for half the price.
  • I have used both and gotten good results with both. But I would still lean towards the Whitetail Institute Imperial Clover if cost and scale were not major factors.
  • The clover is a great food source for deer year-round, I have watched them visit it daily in the middle of January and February and paw through several inches of snow to nibble on whatever is left.
  • Turkeys also find clover patches very appealing, especially in the early spring. They eat the clover as well as the bugs that live on and around it.
  • To prepare the ground there are two easy routes, you can whack the vegetation down to the dirt with a weed eater or do a few sprayings of Round Up with a cheap hand sprayer.
  • Normally you will want to put down some pelletized lime when you plant to help the PH. $20 worth is plenty for most micro plots.
  • You can add fertilizer in the spring or fall if you want. Ideally you want something like a 0-20-20. Clover doesn’t need nitrogen, it creates its own and it only feeds the weeds when you use it. My local AG store has 10-20-20, and I use that. 
  • To plant clover you need very minimal tools if you can see bare dirt, just a cheap hand spreader.
  • Upkeep is minimal, just re-seed in late winter/early spring wherever you see bare spots and you should be good to go.
  • You can mow or weed whack the clover in the summer if you are getting competition with weeds, typically the clover will grow back faster than the weeds and take back over.
  • There are some special herbicides that will kill grasses and weeds without hurting the clover if your clover gets overrun, but most people won’t need them.
  • Listen to the episodes for all the details.

Should you hunt elk solo or pay for a guide or an outfitter? That is an easy question to ask but the answer depends greatly on the many variables that are unique to your situation and goals. On this episode I provide some insight which can help you make the best decision for you.

Take Aways

  • Guides are people you pay who know the land and the game and are able to help put you in an advantageous hunting situation.
  • Outfitters are companies that make your hunting accommodations, often including ground transportation, lodging, meals, guides, butchering, and transporting your meat back home.
  • Guides usually have a day rate.
  • Outfitters usually have a trip rate that varies based on the number of days.
  • A guided elk hunt is not someone taking you to an elk ranch where you pick your elk, shoot it, and have your antlers sent back home. That isn’t even hunting.
  • A guide is someone who shares their experience, knowledge of the land, and insight into the game to help you locate and get close to elk. They don’t hunt for you; they mentor you through the hunt.
  • The best time to use a guide or an outfitter is when you are investing a lot of time and money into travel and want to position yourself for the most enjoyable experience and best chance of success.
  • The best time to go solo is when your investment or risk is limited. If you can drive to the area to hunt, and make regular weekend excursions, you can easily and cheaply work at it until you learn.
  • Since so many people travel great distances and invest so much to hunt elk, guides become a very important part of the process
  • Always do your homework, research a guide or outfitter, look for reviews, talk to past customers if possible, make sure they are legit and that people enjoyed their experience.
  • Listen to the episode for all of the info.

Show Notes:

This is a hotly debated topic but there are some simple, practical guidelines to help you get started and make smart decisions.

In this episode George shares about the 90% of the time you do not need to carry a handgun while hunting and the 90% of the time you certainly should carry a handgun while scouting.

The bottom line is safety and practicality. In some situations carrying a handgun ads to your safety and makes you feel safer which helps you to better enjoy your time in the woods, other times it is a liability and is just another thing to manage, not drop, and try to keep dry.

The answer to the debate could be different depending on how experienced the hunter is. Always try to honestly evaluate your skill level and needs.

Also, an important note, be sure to know and abide by your state’s carry laws. Some states require special permits, and some have special regulations. Also be careful to follow the regulations of your states game commission.