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Masser Ranch - Newsletter April 2006

As mentioned in the previous newsletter, we will be including news and happenings submitted by others from time to time. Derome West wrote the April issue. Many of you know him as a guide for the Masser Ranch, guiding both turkey and deer hunters. He is also a State Trooper for the Texas Department of Public Service. Those of you who are acquainted with Derome know him as a very special person. We know you will find this newsletter very informative and interesting.

I certainly appreciate all the nice comments about the first newsletter. If there is anything you would like to see included let me know. Just a quick note: the May issue will probably be a bit late as we are returning to Africa (Namibia) the end of April and won't be returning until about mid May.

Basics for Long-beards 

As the sights and sounds of springtime begin to fill the Texas hill country, the gobble of the Rio Grande Turkey echoes from pastures, ridges and meadows.  Here at the Masser Ranch, the wild turkey is king of the spring and our hunters experience high success rates and magical moments in the field.  It takes more than luck to be successful with the ole boss tom and here are some tips and tactics that we have found to help increase success rates and tip the scales in your favor.

Camouflage and Concealment

The wild turkey has an extremely keen sense of sight; the slightest movement at the wrong time will result in a flurry of movement and an empty turkey tag.  By utilizing the natural vegetation to construct a blind or at very minimum a back drop, you will help to blend in with your natural surroundings.  You have to get close to a turkey for a good chance at harvesting it, usually 35 yards is about the furthest most hunters feel comfortable with a shot gun and archery hunters usually donít shoot past 20 or 25 yards.  It is important to understand your personal limitations and tailor your distances accordingly.  With that said, you can see how you must avoid any movement while the turkey is looking in your direction.  Full camouflage is encouraged, including firearms and accessories.  Any shiny or reflective surfaces will give your location away, and probably be detected while the bird is still safely out of range.  I like to setup with my shotgun resting comfortably on my knee, pointing in the direction I expect the birds to show up.  Face masks and gloves are a must.  Any exposed skin will give away the hunters position.  I like to clear the area where I am sitting of leaves and debris.  This helps to minimize any noise slight adjustments in position might make.  Bowhunters like the seclusion of blinds like Double Bulls.  The amount of movement you can get away with is astounding.  Anyone who has tried to come to full draw on a turkey while outside of a blind can appreciate the accomplishment of that task.  I would not consider bowhunting without the use of a blind and they are also effective for gun hunters, just donít shoot through the net.  The material of the netting is extremely flammable and will disappear with the muzzle blast into thousands of tiny sparkles. 

Decoys

Decoys are a definite asset to any turkey hunters gear bag.  If I had to choose just one, it would be a hen and I would set her up about 15 yards from my hiding location or blind.  Toms often come running in and begin to strut in circles off to one side or the other.  If you add a jake or juvenile male to your set-up, the older toms will become territorial and often fight with the decoy.  I have had great success with a dual bird set-up consisting of a hen and a jake.  I try to place the jake closer to my location than the hen; this allows the tom to first approach the hen and then focus on the jake.  The main purpose of the decoy is to add a false sense of security to the bird and to appeal to more than one sense, making your calling more effective.  Decoys also allow you to make slight movements while the tom has his attention focused elsewhere.

Calls and calling

There are many types of calls available on the market and a host of vocalizations that turkeys make.  One spring in the field and you will understand how extensive the turkeyís vocabulary really is.  Beginner callers usually start out with a friction call.  The box call and slate call are great places to start.  Slate calls require a bit more practice and are often favorites among veteran hunters.  Yelps, purrs, clucks and puts are all easily mastered with practice.  Kee-keeís and cackles require more practice but are great additions to any calling sequence.  The downside to slates and box calls is the movement required to make the sounds.  Mouth calls or diaphragms are harder to master but are well worth the time spent.  The sounds can be produced with no detectable movements and are great for coaxing the tom in those last few crucial yards. 

Crow calls or owl hoots are great locator calls.  A tom turkey has to be the loudest thing in the woods and will often gobble at any loud noise, including a slamming car door or whistle.  The interaction that comes along with calling turkeys makes spring hunting very interactive and rewarding.  The accomplishment of calling a mature bird to your location and making a successful shot will bring you to the spring woods year after year. 

 Preparation

A full or extra-full choke is a necessity for turkey hunting as is a well patterned shotgun.  3 or 3 1/2 inch chambers shooting #4, 5, or 6 shot works very well.  Bowhunters should use large cutting diameter mechanicals or gobbler getters with rounded points.  The blunt trauma produced by these heads often stops the bird from gaining enough strength to fly. Head shots are the favorite of gun hunters and often result in the bird dropping immediately.  When bowhunting, I personally like a center mass shot at a turkey facing straight forward or directly away, especially in full strut.  On a broadside bird, I aim center mass and thru the wing-butts. Knowing your limits and taking only ethical shots will greatly increase your odds and limit the number of wounded, unrecovered birds.

Spring turkey hunting is very challenging and you have to practice and become proficient with all of your gear.  By interacting with the wild turkey and spending time in the spring woods, the measure of success is not in the harvest but in the experience. 

Be safe out there. We want to keep you around.

Previous Newsletters - March 2006 | April 2006

 

Masser Ranch
1099 Flag Creek Road
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624
830-997-5363
E-mail: info@masserranch.com

www.masserranch.com