Turkey Hunting on Public Land | Scouting & Calling Tips

Turkey Hunting on Public Land | Scouting & Calling Tips
February 16, 2022

Turkey Hunting on Public Land

There’s something special about harvesting an animal on public land. Sure, getting a turkey on private land is an amazing feeling, but going onto a piece of property that you aren’t extremely familiar with, competing against other hunters for an animal and then being successful at it, is a whole different thing altogether. Public lands were first started in the late 1700s when New York agreed to give unsettled acres to the government, and the other colonies followed. After selling off millions of acres to private parties for generating revenue for the government, there was an increase in conservation efforts to conserve those natural resources, which has led to over 200 million acres in the form of National Forests, Wildlife Refuges and National Parks. As citizens of the United States, we now have the right to enjoy hunting on these public lands. For an in-depth read about the history of the wild turkey checkout the article titled "History of The Wild Turkey | The Greatest Conservation Success Story The US Has Ever Seen" by Paul Campbell.

Tips for Public Land Turkey Hunting

Scouting for Turkeys is Key

Like most North American animals, turkeys have a very routine lifestyle, which gives hunters the advantage of keying in on a flock's core areas through scouting. I like to start with hard to reach places. Most hunters will try to bag a Tom in as convenient of a place as possible, and who could blame them? It’s easy to try to hunt near the roadways and you very well could be successful. However, most of my luck with turkey hunting public land is when I get really deep, going through thick areas that most people wouldn’t even attempt to go through, and I can find an undisturbed honey hole.

Don't Overcall

Public land birds are a lot more skittish than ones you might find on private. It’s likely that they have been pressured and called to by hunters several times, so they’re generally more educated and not as chatty. When I know that a Tom is nearby, I try not to go overkill with my calling. Play hard to get with some realistic calling, and he’ll be much more curious about finding that hen. Dylan Hayward wrote a great article titled "Speaking Fluent Turkey | Turkey Calling Tips & Strategy" check it out for more info on turkey calling.

Stick it Out

There’s no doubt that hunting public land takes a lot more patience than hunting on private, but that should give you more motivation not to throw in the towel too early. I have found that sometimes it can be a lot harder to get a Tom to commit to your calling in the early morning, likely because he has already found a hen after he left his roost. After he is finished with a hen, there’s a good chance that he will be looking for his next lady, and that will give you the perfect opportunity to entice him with a little afternoon delight. Don’t be afraid to hunt midday, assuming your state allows it.

Have A Plan

When it comes to turkey hunting, those with a plan tend to be successful. Never go in blind just assuming you are going to set up on the perfect turkey spot. It is never that easy. Do your scouting, bring the right gear, dust off your old decoys, be ready for any situation that might happen, because just like deer, turkeys can be very unpredictable. Get prepared for preseason scouting during the next couple months, pick up some Vortex Binos and glass some public fields in the morning to take note of the flocks. Practice your turkey calling every chance you get. The work you put in now will ensure a successful turkey season.

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