Need some help!

Everything pertaining to hunting fall turkeys. From calls to Turkey dogs.
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Lazyeiger
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Joined: May 22nd, 2015, 1:37 pm

Need some help!

Post by Lazyeiger » November 25th, 2015, 12:53 pm

OK I just spent 3 days with 2 other people in the Lincoln Natl Forest in New Mexico, around Cloudcroft. One of the others had hunted turkey before and been successful, me and my son had never hunted anything before, let alone turkey!

So we drove around the forest roads for 3 days, saw about 6 hens crossing the road once, that was it, did not hear a single turkey call, no responses to locating call either in the morning or evening.

Hunt 2 was on my own yesterday in the Carson Natl Forest near Tuchas NM. I saw plenty of sign in the snow, however after hiking 12 miles or so along roads, trails and in the forest did not see or hear a single turkey.

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So here are my observations/questions

I see lots of tracks and poop in the snow and scratchings under tall pine trees, how do I know how old they are? ( snow has been on the ground for about a week)
Do turkeys roost tall tress year round, even when it is windy and cold?
Where do they go after they come down from the roost? to water?
Do they just not call or answer locating calls in the fall?
Will they be in the same locations in the spring as now?
What am I doing wrong?

Sorry for all the questions!

Thanks

Jon

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Grumpy
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Re: Need some help!

Post by Grumpy » November 25th, 2015, 1:44 pm

Maybe I'm wrong but unless they are on a massive migration they should be close to where the tracks are due to food source to keep them there. From my experience watching turkeys they are a non stop eating machine and doubt you will find them where there is no food.
I was not his father but he was my son,,MAK IV, 10-15-1993 - 4-22-2007
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hawglips
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Re: Need some help!

Post by hawglips » November 25th, 2015, 2:08 pm

Lazyeiger wrote: I see lots of tracks and poop in the snow and scratchings under tall pine trees, how do I know how old they are? ( snow has been on the ground for about a week)
Real fresh tracks often show their "fingerprints."
Lazyeiger wrote:Do turkeys roost tall tress year round, even when it is windy and cold?
Yes, for the most part.
Lazyeiger wrote:Where do they go after they come down from the roost? to water?
I've never seen them go to water right off the roost. They mess around a bit then go to food.
Lazyeiger wrote:Do they just not call or answer locating calls in the fall?
They do, but not as robustly as in the spring.
Lazyeiger wrote:Will they be in the same locations in the spring as now?
Likely not. But you never know.
Lazyeiger wrote:What am I doing wrong?
Just keep trying. Find fresh sign and work that area good. I often go for long stretches in the fall/winter without finding a single turkey. They are bunched up and not spread out and lovesick like they are in the spring.

Lazyeiger
Posts: 11
Joined: May 22nd, 2015, 1:37 pm

Re: Need some help!

Post by Lazyeiger » November 25th, 2015, 4:20 pm

Grumpy wrote:they are a non stop eating machine and doubt you will find them where there is no food.
So what do they eat in pine forest at 9,000ft? I read that their diet is mostly comprised of acorns.....I don't think there is a single oak tree in the high elevation forests of NM!! There maybe a few pine nuts on the ground, and some grubs and insects under the pine needles where the snow has melted. It is well below freezing most nights now and by sunup the ground is frozen as hard as a rock, can't see them scratching for insects until the ground starts to thaw around midday?

Treerooster
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Joined: December 21st, 2011, 7:22 pm

Re: Need some help!

Post by Treerooster » November 25th, 2015, 10:53 pm

It sounds to me like you are hunting the Merriam's subspecies of turkey in NM. NM also has Rios but they are more on the plains I believe.

I see lots of tracks and poop in the snow and scratchings under tall pine trees, how do I know how old they are? ( snow has been on the ground for about a week)

How fresh a track looks (and scat and scratchings) can depend on weather conditions. How much detail can you see in the track?Has it been warm enough during some part of the day to melt a little snow? Has there been some wind to blow snow into the tracks?. It takes some experience but look at your tracks you just made in the snow and compare those to the turkey's. You can also look at some tracks you made several hours ago and compare them to your fresh tracks. Since you know the time the your older tracks were made, you can develop a sense of how they deteriorate. Fresh scat will be green and white, older will be more brown and dried out. Out west in our dry climate scat can last for months. For scratchings look at how dry the ground is that has been scratched. Compare that to ground you just scratched bare. You can also look at how dry is the material that has been scratched up.


Do turkeys roost tall tress year round, even when it is windy and cold?

Yes. They do tend to roost downslope from the top of a ridge in trees big enough to have horizontal branches that will hold them and enough space between the branches for them to fly up into. In the habitat you describe they will probably choose large Ponderosa Pine trees. They could roost in large Cottonwoods down in a valley too.


Where do they go after they come down from the roost? to water?

They usually hang around the roost for 15 to 30 minutes. This is when they do a lot of calling too. Some mornings they may just head right out though. Then they head for their feeding area but may water first if its on the way or they didn't get to water the evening before. Usually they feed first before watering and go to water a few hours after they start their day.



Do they just not call or answer locating calls in the fall?

What do you mean by locating calls? They will answer calls in the fall. Locator calls used in spring, like coyote, crow, or owl calls do not work well in the fall. A kee kee or kee kee run will work better on a hen/poult flock and maybe a jake flock in fall. I don't have much experience with mature gobbler flocks, but a gobble may be a good call to try. Yelps and clucks are not as easy to hear as a gobble either (which is how turkeys are usually located in spring). While gobblers will gobble in the fall, it is not anywhere near as much as in the spring.


Will they be in the same locations in the spring as now?

Possibly, but dont count on it. Merriam's in the mountains tend to migrate down to wintering areas in the late fall and winter. Areas that have agriculture around will attract them. In the spring turkeys spread out among available habitat at the higher elevations in flocks of roughly 6 to 10 birds. In fall and winter they flock up, sometimes in flocks numbering into the hundreds. So in fall/winter turkeys will be more concentrated and in fewer areas. When you find them you will probably have lots of turkeys, but those areas are few and far between. This is especially true out west where there just aren't as many turkeys per square mile as in the east.


So what do they eat in pine forest at 9,000ft?

They do eat the seeds of pine cones. I read in a study done in SD where pine cone seeds were an important part of their diet. Of course pine cones are just about everywhere in a Ponderosa forest. :D


What am I doing wrong?

Nothing. You are learning about hunting and that takes time. Hunting in real life is nothing...absolutely nothing...like it appears to be on TV. In fall finding turkeys is the hardest part IMO, especially in areas where there just aren't that many per sq mile.

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