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The Great Outdoors with Mike Roux

Developing A Fool Proof Turkey Program

Published on Monday, April 14, 2014

Consistency…This is a level that most turkey hunters long to achieve. What better way to be described by your turkey hunting peers than consistent? As a pursuer of these feathered phantoms of the hardwood, I can attest to the difficulty of becoming and staying consistent. As we discuss this problem, we will analyze many of the components that make up the total sum of being a consistently successful turkey hunter.

I have written more than a few articles about turkeys and turkey hunting and I have read several hundred more. Calling experts give their best tips, shotgun experts explain their best chokes and loads, and biologists give opinions on everything from feeding to breeding. All of these are well and good, but they are only pieces that we must somehow whittle and shape to fit our own individual hunting needs. I would like to suggest some things that will allow you to develop you own program. By finding ideas and supplies that you are comfortable with, you will become more confident as you take to the woods. The entity that we seek comes directly after confidence. That is consistency.

The most basic place to start to form your program is your turkey call. As the Director of the Pro Hunting Staff for Mountain Screamer Game Calls and having my own line of custom turkey calls within that company, I can give you some solid advice. Most of all – use a call with which you are comfortable. Do not be pressured by public opinion into using a new call or a different call if you have had success with something else. My theory is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Try to become proficient with at least two different types of calls. By using a diaphragm and friction call simultaneously, you can imitate a couple of hens from the same location. Using a box call for yelps and a slate for putts and purrs can also fire up an otherwise picky, old tom. Always be seductive with your calling, never demanding. An old gobbler can be asked in a lot faster that he can be ordered in. Again practice enough to become confident.

As you continue to develop your own personal style of turkey hunting, you will no doubt consider camo clothing. Before we center specifically on clothing, let me stress this: Camouflage everything! As Bill Cosby once said, “There shouldn’t be anything but your little eyes sticking out.” Camouflage your face, hands, gun, seat…all of it. Whatever you have with you should be camouflaged. Do not take any chances on this as it can very easily make the difference.

Now for clothing. What it sounds like is as important as what it looks like. That may sound odd to you, but the zip of twig on a nylon or canvas-like material sounds odd to a gobbler, too. Be conscious of clothing noise. The best way to eliminate this problem is with soft cotton-type material that virtually noiseless. Wool is good too, good and hot. As you look for your outer layer, check out soft cotton. I think you will be pleased.

I hunt or guide in three or four states each spring. The natural foliage differs widely and, as the season progresses, the leaves become larger and thicker. Choose a camo whose colors and pattern are adaptable to changing conditions. I like Shaman Camo’s Deadfall pattern. It has gray, black and brown color patterns. 

                                 My stepson Spencer Dietrich wears Shaman's Deadfall pattern in
                    the spring turkey woods with amazingly consistent results. (Photo by Mike Roux)

I would like to add, at this point, a comment about the stubbornness of the vast majority of big gobblers. Many of us have had an isolated occasion when the big tom ran directly to the first call. More often than not, however we have been placed in a game of wit and patience with our adversary. It is a must to get comfortable immediately and be able to maintain that comfort level for an extended period of time. The new turkey hunting vests come with a thin seat pad built in. For most guys that’s plenty, but I weigh 270-pounds. The built in seat pads become as typing paper after only a few minutes. I use a 2 in. thick camo boat seat cushion. It is quiet and easy to strap on and acorns do not feel like softballs to my pressure areas. Develop a system that keeps you comfortable. We are supposed to be having fun out there ya know!

The next link in our program chain could very well be the shot itself. Volumes have been written and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent coming up with long distance, dense patterning turkey chokes. I suppose for those hunters who have not taken the time to develop a successful program these intercontinental ballistic loads and chokes are necessary.

It has been my experience that correct programs will almost always present closer shots. As everything you do becomes better and more automatic, your confidence level increases. You understand that an unspooked bird coming in at 35-yards will soon be at 25 or 20-yards or even closer. Slug-tight turkey chokes at this distance put you at the definite disadvantage. Rule of thumb: as you improve your technique and birds begin to get closer, change to more open chokes. An O/U shotgun with full and modified is almost perfect. You can choose your choke at the time of your shot. Your overall program is now becoming much more refined.

The final segment of improving your overall turkey hunting technique is designed to be sure that your will be able to apply this new program for many seasons to come. Your safety and the safety of others is and should be the foundation of your system. I cannot stress enough the importance of planning for hunting safety. No aspect of safety can be cut short. Your life may depend on it.

The standard advice cannot be ignored. You must wear something blaze orange on some part of your body while walking, especially while carrying your trophy out of the woods. Target selections are the most important part of your total program. When you pull that trigger you must be sure. Guessing here can be fatal. Again, through personal experience, let me advise you about another potentially deadly factor; fatigue.

Turkey hunting several days in a row can take its toll on us both physically and mentally. Be aware of your overall state. The very best turkey hunting program we can develop is useless if fatigue has clouded our perspective and our judgment. Maintain “opening day” clarity throughout the season. If this means taking a day off to rest, so be it. All the long beards in the world will not make up for an accident that could have been prevented.

Ham and eggs and biscuits and gravy are only breakfast when they are all put together. They work best when they complement each other. That is exactly how we have just developed a total, successful program for turkey hunting. You must be able to add to your program as needed. Versatility and comfort and safety combine to help us achieve our goal—to become a consistently successful turkey hunter.
                         Beck’s Hybrids customer John Caldwell, used his fool-proof turkey hunting

                      program to guide young turkey hunter, and my son, Caleb to a spring gobbler.
                                                               (Photo by Mike Roux)

Developing and practicing a routine for witnessing can also be very gratifying. Begin with prayer then follow-up with Biblical preparation. When you are prepared and God leads you, seek-out the lost and share the hope of salvation with them. Doing this on a regular basis will fulfill your life far beyond turkey hunting. God Bless.

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Mike Roux

Mike Roux

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1 comments on article "The Great Outdoors with Mike Roux"

John Schliewenz

11/5/2014 1:24 PM

Did you folks have Browning build a "Beck's Hybrids", complete with company logo, Maxus Shotgun for some occasion? Do you know what year and how many were built? One is listed for bid on and my son-in-law has been bidding on it. I just wanted to get some history on the gun. Thanks, John

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