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Hook & Barrel
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Public Land Turkey Hunting Tips

Hunting public land is all the rage these days, but certain aspects of it are different than chasing birds on private properties. Here are 22 public-land turkey hunting tips that generally apply to hunting on grounds that are open to all.

1. Study the Books

Hunting laws are significantly different on public lands. It’s important to learn what these are prior to hunting turkeys on some of that open-to-all land.

2. Wear the Right Stuff

Never wear red, white, or blue when turkey hunting. These are colors commonly associated with gobblers. Wear full camo, and if you see a hunter, speak out without moving. Once they are aware of your position, then move.

3. Talk to the Locals

Those who live near a piece of public land can help you learn it faster. Ask them where they see turkeys, and how often.

4. Scout Early and Late

Scout at all times of the day, especially on smaller public properties. Turkeys might be there early and late in the day, or during the middle hours of the day, but likely not both.

5. Scout Strategically

Scouting in an efficient manner is crucial. Learning the land as quickly as possible is important. Start with high-odds areas first, and work down the list.

6. Find the Sign

Look for signs of turkeys. Droppings, dust bowls, feathers, strut marks, tracks, and other signs of life are important verifiers.

7. Use a Hunting App

Using a hunting app is a great way to find turkey hunting hotspots, monitor property boundaries, and more.

8. Drop Some Pins

Drop app pins for all sign located, turkeys sighted, roosted birds, gobbles heard, and key terrain features found. After scouting is over, you’ll be able to remember where everything was.

9. Locate Roost Trees

Certain aerial map app layers are good for finding potential roost trees. Oftentimes, you can find trees on the high ground that have horizontal limbs with open fly-up and fly-down zones.

10. Search for Unknown Tracts

Public land hunting is all about finding the overlooked spots. Sometimes, certain tracts go unnoticed. Find those.

11. Hike Way In

Tracts of public that receive more hunting pressure require unique or effort-centric approaches. Oftentimes, that requires hiking deeper into the property than most others.

12. Hunt Close to the Road

In contrast, very few hunters hunt really close to the road. Instead, they hike a few hundred yards in and start hunting. So, some turkeys end up closer to the roads.

13. Find Land-Locked Public

A public property that is land-locked requires access through private land. Most hunters won’t attempt to get the permission required to cross over into the public. If you do, and get it, that might mean minimal to no hunting pressure and competition.

14. Locate Water-Locked Public

Likewise, public land that is surrounded by water, or water and private land, requires extra effort. By accessing with a boat, hunters are more likely to find turkeys that have less hunting pressure.

15. Hunt the Odd Hours

Most turkey hunters hunt the first and/or last few hours of the day. Instead, on public land, and where legal, hunt from mid-morning to mid-afternoon to encounter less competition.

16. Be More Patient

Turkeys that are more pressured are sometimes slower to respond. Because of this, it’s important to give each setup a little more time to develop.

17. Put a Bird to Bed

Roosting a bird is a good tactic. This gives you a head start on the morning hunt. Just get there extremely early before other hunters do, and in time to get set up slowly without spooking birds.

18. Don’t Call as Much

Calling too much isn’t good, especially on public lands. Intensive calling, and excessive gobbling, draws the attention of other hunters. It might also lead to a hen swooping in and taking the tom. Call less.

19. Be Careful with Decoys

Due to safety reasons, some hunters prefer not to use decoys on public lands. But those who do need to take extra precautions to stay safe.

20. Don’t Be too Stealthy

It’s important not to sneak up on other hunters who are sharing the same property. Be stealthy enough to fill your tag but be wary of other hunters. Stay safe.

21. Have Multiple Plans

Rarely does the first plan work out. It’s crucial to have multiple hunt plans prepped and ready. Oftentimes, it takes a few options for one to work.

22. Keep Stuff to Yourself

If you find a great public land turkey hunting spot, keep it to yourself and your closest hunting buddies. Make a pact not to bring in other people.

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