The Big Eastern Turkey

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The Big Eastern Turkey

Postby Dustin07 » Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:24 pm

I have been reading that California, Oregon, and Southwest Washington have a decent population of Eastern Turkeys. I also read that they are some of the biggest, but the most call shy. I'd love to try to find some of these.

All I know so far is that they supposedly live in wet woods, are large, gun shy, and hard to locate. What else can I learn before I dive in? Season doesn't open till April and I'm thinking about heading down to a couple areas in Feb and March that supposedly house these birds for some scouting. I want to see if I can get them to reply to calls, if they supposedly are where these articles say they are (I've never seen a turkey in dense western washington woods before).


any input?
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Postby tripleCBoykins » Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:15 pm

Don't know much about any bird out west. But the best thing for you is to study up on anything and everything you can find on turkeys! Calling is an important part of hunting turkeys. Yet the most important thing is to be a hunter. Pattern turkeys and you will become a consistent turkey killer with little ability to call. Learn to call and then don't call till you have to! The less you speak to a bird the better! Turkeys aren't very smart but they live their life escaping predators. They will make a fool of you, many times over! Live and learn, keep your head up and don't give up!
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Postby stumpjumper » Wed Jan 21, 2009 12:05 am

Sounds like your hunting a ghost or someone you talked to got schooled by a fe Eastern birds.

Easterns are different than the other species. Yes they are large but not the larget on average. They are not hard to locate, yes can be call shy and live in many habitates

Locating birds. I personaly wouldn`t take a turkey call into the woods when scouting. No need to educate these birds anymore than necassay. Take locator calls instead. Show up early and find one of the highest points and sit down and listen to the birds at dawn. Next walk around the woods and look for signs IE scratches, feathers, dropping, and tracks. Easterns like to follow water from point to point so that is always a good starting place.

Calling- Well easterns are different in this area. Mostly what I believe people are miss stating is that easterns aren`t call shy they just hang up..ALOT. They will gobble their heads off coming to you then all of a sudden just plain stop in their tracks and continue to gobble. Most folk get nervous and start to really hammer the bird. Then the bird shuts up and is gone. I recommend little calling when dealing with an eastern. Just give him enough to keep him on the string. They will travel great distances to get to you but for some darn reason just won`t finish. This has driven me nuts on a bird or two.

As far as habitat, easterns can endure all conditions. For example just here in NC I have hunted them in the Appalachain`s where the woods are big and somewhat open, in the Piedmont where it is mostly a mix of hardwood and pines, in the low lands where it is pine and thick bottoms and finally in the nasty swamps where it is so thick and nasty you can`t see 10 feet in front of yourself. Oh and like most turkeys they like open fields and farms.

Hope some of this helps

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Postby Dustin07 » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:25 am

Thanks for the replies guys! and thanks for the tip on calling. This is simlar to how I work ducks typically... starting loud and then finishing softly as they get closer. I'm looking forward to getting out and playing with it. hopefully I'll post pics of an Eastern this spring!


And as far as the size goes... they may not be the 'largest' turkey in America, but the article I read said they are typically larger than the Rio's or Miriams that we have here in Washington. Maybe thats untrue too, just wanted to clarify where I what I meant.
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Postby callumcuffumkillum » Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:34 pm

Easterns are the hardest of the spieces to call because of there programing. In the worl of ladies the Eastern hens are supposed to come to the gobblers meaning they sit back and wait. This is what makes them so difficult to call. Other birds such as merriams are the comeplete opposite. Gobblers go to the hens. I live in SC where down here all we have are Easterns. Like stated earlier "Easterns are easy to locate" that is not exactly true. It depends but the birds usually gobble like crazy in the tree. Once hitting the ground for a while they normaly go silent for the most part.
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Postby Jarbo03 » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:39 pm

Hunting easterns in dense woods can be some of the funnest hunting you can do. The thunderous gobbles carry well through the trees. My favorite way to hunt easterns is to give them just enough calls to let them know where you are at, and be still with your gun ready, they can come in very quiet and from all directions. Good luck.
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Postby phutch30 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:33 am

Ive shot easterns in SC, NC, GA, VA,WV, PA, NY and NH. They all acted pretty much the same. They also acted pretty much the same as the Rios, osceolas and Merriams Ive shot. However, I do think they are the most paranoid turkeys out there. The eastern and osceola seemed to me to be the most wary and most prone to hang up. This is most likly a case of more chances to run into a creek, fence or thick brush. All turkeys hang up for reasons only known to them. Easterns typically wont come as far to a call as say a merriam but Ive had them fly across a valley or river to get to me, so nothing is written in stone.

If there are farms in the area glass the fields. They will spend alot of time in the open if its available.

Use crow, owl and peacock calls for a locator rather than turkey calls. At least first. If they are not responding to locator calls hit them with a cackle. Never use turkey sounds while scouting though. All your gunna do is smarten them up.

Best advice I can give. Locate a bird and hunt him like you would any other turkey. They are not THAT different. I use the same techniques for southern swamp birds as I do for birds on the Hardwood ridges in the north. Those same basic techniques work just as good out here for MT merriams and OR Rios.

If you have hunted turkeys before youll be fine. Go with what you know.
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Postby duxrus » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:07 am

The key to Easterns is not to go call crazy like on the videos....get their attention and play it cool.If that doesn't work after an hour or so then you may try to pick up the pace. Another thing is to hunt them mid morning. I still get out before daylight to hear them on the roost, but like others havs said they love to get quiet once on the ground for awhile. After about 2 hours they tend to get noisy again. I will get as close as possible, call, if I get an answer I will call once more and shut up....let him look for you. The more calling you do the higher the odds you will just hang him up waiting on this excited hen.

Dense woods is great. You can get closer without being seen. Gobblers will have to come closer for a good look instead of the strutting way out of range like you deal with in fields.

Good luck.
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Postby cjg » Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:56 pm

Don't give up to early in the day, just because a Tom is "henned up" in the early morning, he'll probably give up on them after awhile and may come looking for you if you haven't spooked him.
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Postby Jarbo03 » Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:07 pm

:dito: My favorite time to call in gobblers is from 11:00 to 2:00 or so, find a lot of lonesome birds that time of day.
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Postby Drake Drayage » Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:09 am

I've hunted the Easterns, but haven't bagged one yet... My advice, try to cover some ground and spot some before you start calling. They just don't play the game on the west side... not for me at least. If they're not gobbling, they may just walk in not making a sound the entire time. I'm always hunting public land, and typically, the birds are hold up the farmers field. I'm gonna experiment more with dekes this year...

Good luck!
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