USE GPS TO GET THAT TURKEY   Leave a comment

MO Turkey 0007

Turkey hunters have a great tool at their disposal in the GPS.   Their maps and programs can help the hunter plan his hunt as well as navigate to and from hunting areas.

A GPS can aid hunters in remembering all of the major scouting points (waypoints) in the woods and make locating them easier.  It is possible to find a blind or planned ambush point in the dark easier than playing a video game.

GPS stands for Global Positioning System, a system of satellites far above the earth.  It measures your distance from the satellites with radio signals, and then shows you where you are.  All the high tech stuff is handy in a small hand held receiver.  All you have to do is turn it on, tell it where you want to go and follow its lead.

How do hunters overcome the natural defenses of turkeys?  They use an intimate knowledge of the turkey’s habits, woodsmanship, stealth and calling ability.  Most importantly is hunting in an area inhabited by the big birds.

Pre-season scouting is the best way of finding the spots in a given area most often used by turkeys.  Scouting with the assistance of GPS is one way to develop a plan of attack.  Take a walk through the woods at dawn or dusk and listen for the birds to sound off.  You can also drive the back roads stopping periodically to use a call.  In both situations, watch for sign and birds.

GPS will not overcome the major defenses of turkeys.  The birds are agile and can instantly take-off vertically.  Once airborne, they are capable of speeds up to 42 miles per hour.  They present a formidable target.

Perhaps a Turkey’s best defense is his eyesight.  Just how keen is their eyesight can be the subject of considerable debate.  But, they do pick up color, movement, contrast and detail very quickly and accurately.  Turkeys perceive, analyze and react to what they see quicker than man or other animals.  Turkeys also have better hearing than man.

The fact that all of these defenses are in one bird creates more problems for the hunter when one considers that they travel in flocks.  A half-dozen or more pair of eyes and ears presents a formidable challenge for most hunters.

Once a tom is located, you add waypoint to your GPS.  If it is late in the day, you can put him to roost.  He will gobble often and make following easy.  Once you find the roosting sight it too can be marked as a waypoint.

If you find only tracks and droppings, they examine them carefully.  If a tom is among the flock, his dropping will be long and J-shaped while the hens will be in a small roundish pile.  Areas with mud or sand are good for seeing tracks.  Larger ones in the range of 4 ½ to 5 inches wide between the outer toes will be from a gobbler.  Add another waypoint to the GPS.

Turkeys, like other birds, have problems with parasites.  To rid themselves of these pesky critters, they take a dust bath.  Find an area of loose dirt (dust) with turkey tracks and feathers.  It most probably is a dusting area.  Mark it as a waypoint on your GPS.  Birds will visit it regularly.

Soon you have formed a plan of attack for the turkey season.  By looking at all the waypoints one can see a pattern develop as to the activity of the birds in the area.

Use other waypoints to chart a course from a parked vehicle to and from the planned hunting area.  Your present position appears as a symbol on the screen and any stored waypoints within the program are on display.  As you move, the present position symbol tracks your movement and leaves a solid, dark line behind it that shows where you have been.

In the dark pre-dawn and in heavy fog, this hand held receiver is a great tool for not getting lost.  Sold under a variety of brand names like Lowrance and Magellan, the GPS receiver is about the size of a TV remote control.  It can be stored in a pocket or daypack when not in use.  They are available at sporting goods stores and through mail order catalogs like Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops.

GPS is a fast, simple and easy way to pattern the birds in your hunting area.  It can get you on birds and make sure you make it safely back to your vehicle regardless of the weather.


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