The Turkeys Needed for a Slammin’ Spring
To score an American grand slam, one turkey from each of the four major subspecies—Eastern, Osceola, Merriam’s and Rio Grande (Gould), must be gotten. Mature, long-bearded toms can be brought down with a shotgun or bow this spring. But the reality is this; although many hunters want to achieve the slam in one season, it will most likely take more than that to get them all.
The chances are big that, if you’re a seasoned hunter, you have already killed an Eastern tom, so your sights should now be turned on the other three.
The Osceola wild turkey lives and roams in the green, palmetto-filled landscape that makes up central and southern Florida. When it comes to achieving success by bringing home the Osceola, scouting is the major thing that must be done. Strut zones must be found, and open terrain as well as swampland, are the two basic habitats where the Osceola loves to strut.
Between swamp and open fields, two completely different ways of scouting must be done. For swampland, the scouting will be done on foot, looking for tracks and feathers that show the hunter the Osceola’s travel routes. And being that we’re talking about Florida here, with dense swamps, pine woods, and thick overgrowth, it will be a given that turkeys as well as other wildlife will use the same routes on a daily basis.
The open terrain involves using a vehicle, utilizing optics as you go out in order to mark the location of the Osceola. Watching them from afar, the hunter can determine just the right approach to achieve success. And if the rules and regs and maps of the public lands are too tough, Florida is made up of a whole lot of private land, which means permission should be gotten before stepping over the line by mistake.
The Gould’s wild turkeys offer a bit more of a challenge. Heading down to Mexico, the hunter faces some unique strategies to use where the Gould’s wild turkey makes its home. There are many experts who state that hunting this particular bird is like no other, and requires much more preparation than for the others that make up your Grand Slam victory.
Height is an issue. After all, the best way to hunt an Eastern is to make sure to find ground that is at the same level or higher than the turkey. When it comes to Gould’s, higher ground means climbing up some serious terrain in order to get the perfect shot.
Locating the birds is a challenge, but once they’re spotted, the turkey will actually have no problem listening and being drawn to your call. In fact, unlike Easterns, they will travel a pretty long distance when the call is heard. It may seem like a long time waiting, but if you hear that gobble do not move – the bird is coming.
When calling the turkey, experts have stated that a higher-pitched call works best; such as a two-reed mouth call or a boat paddle that sends extremely aggressive calls into the gobbler’s ears. And never forget that when it comes to the Gould, the country you’re hunting in is not your own. Obeying all the rules that Mexico has in place is a must!
Last, but not least, is the Merriam’s wild turkey which is the hunt where you will need to have the most patience. To harvest this gobbler, the hunter must be very persistent when it comes to scouting and calling, because drawing the Merriam in closer will not be easy at all. The turkey species will travel longer than an Eastern, but the call must be the best and loudest possible considering the wide open landscape you have to work with.
Mimic the hen, have patience and stay in one place; these are the three most important things to remember in order to bag that turkey!
In the end, enjoy the hunt and pull out a Grand Slam…if you can.