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5 Tips for Pressured Public Land Turkey Hunting by Tony Coakley

Public Land Turkey Hunting Tips

  1. Show up Late

I know what you are thinking: this guy is crazy.

Trust me, this is an under-utilized technique for hunting public land and especially those birds that have been pressured hard by every hunter in the surrounding counties.

When the first rays of sunshine hit the limbs of the big oak tree that those gobblers love to roost in, you will be just sipping your first cup of coffee.

Ohio’s spring turkey season for the first two weeks is a morning hunt only and you must be done by noon, so many hunters will only take the first few hours of daylight off of work and try to squeeze in a hunt before heading to the office. Play this to your advantage and let those hunters hit it hard for two hours, wearing out those calls and rushing to get it done. When they leave the woods and race back to the office, the woods will be all yours..

Another advantage to this method is  many gobblers will have hens with them at first light and will spend the next two hours breeding them. After they have bred their harem of females, they will be searching for a receptive hen and you will be laying in wait, ready to ambush.

  1. Be Quiet

Of course you want to be quiet as possible when you are closing the distance on a turkey — especially those weary pressured Toms — but what I really want to emphasize here is calling those birds.

We all have the one person we know who goes through at least one call a year and overcalls to every gobbler they hear. Try to be very quiet when talking to that pressured bird. Remember: he has heard all the loud, overly aggressive calls every morning since opening day. More times than not, that is the last thing he will commit to. Simply clucking and soft purrs will do the trick here. Many birds are shot every year using these subtle techniques. One additional tip for those really weary spring turkeys: try using some scratching of the forest floor to emulate a hen feeding.


  1. Get Close

When you finally get that spring gobbler to answer your call, get in as close as possible without spooking your bird. This is definitely easier said than done and you will bump a few, but with experience you will be able to gauge the distance of those thunderous gobbles. It is so much easier to get a turkey to commit 75-100 yards rather than longer distances. There are simply too many obstacles for him to overcome when traveling over long distances.

  1. Use different calls

When I am hunting pressured turkeys during the spring season I always keep a call or two in my turkey vest that isn’t the front-of-the-aisle call everyone grabs at your local sporting goods store.

I will use box calls that are low production calls, or mouth calls that not the average hunter has never heard, just in case the more popular calls are being used by every hunter that hits the woods that week. Sometimes, this will make the difference in fooling that old Tom into closing the distance simply because it is something they have not heard yet.


  1. Get off the main trails

We are all guilty of using main logging roads and pipelines too much when turkey hunting. Calling every few hundred yards in hope of striking up a conversation with a gobbler will work on any given day. However, when you are dealing with pressured turkeys this technique can be difficult.

Instead, work your way as far as you can away from those easy access points and get into the woods where you know most hunters will not travel. After getting to those spots, then try your calling techniques and get ready to bag that pressured spring turkey.

I hope these five spring turkey hunting techniques will help you get that pressured public-land bird this year. Good luck this spring!

Tony Coakley

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