4 Terrain Tricks for Hunting Spring Turkeys

Read the lay of the land, and recognize obstacles, in order to anticipate a gobbler’s approach

turkey terrain

turkey terrain

Still scratching your head about why a blabbermouth gobbler didn’t make it to your ambush site? Maybe it wasn’t your calling after all. Maybe it was a landscape problem. Turkeys follow the path of least resistance and use landscape features to escape predators—including you. Study the terrain in your turkey country to use these features to your advantage and increase your odds of a head-shot morning.

terrain key

terrain key

1. Edges
No terrain feature defines a path of least resistance better than borders. Obvious edges include those of fields and woodlots, but don't overlook subtle ones created by woodland trails, utility-line clearings, and dry creek beds. Turkeys follow and loaf along these edges daily. Hide just inside the cover, and use a decoy to pull a gobbler farther along an edge to the very spot where you will end his day.

2. Hill Country
Regardless of the pitch—from mountain slope to rolling hill—try to get on the same level as the gobbler. Calling turkeys up or down steep grades is possible, but your odds increase if the bird can walk straight to you on a side hill or bench. If you have to call him up, make sure you have a shooting opportunity when the turkey hits the crest. If he peeks over the top and doesn't see a hen, you may lose your short-lived chance.

3. Riparian Zones
Turkeys encounter water daily, but if they don't have to cross large bodies of water, they won't. A good rule of thumb is that if you can jump it, so can a turkey. No matter how good a caller you are, marshes, raging rapids, and wide rivers are show-stoppers if the turkey is on the far side. To avoid a water-based standoff, scout carefully and set up on the side of the waterway where you expect turkey action.

4. Hidden Terrain Traps
Unknown or unseen barriers can stymie a gobbler's approach. One of the most frequent tom-stoppers is woven or tightly wired fence, but includes thick tangles of brush. Turkeys will pace along these barriers, looking for an opening, but if they don't find one, they'll lose interest in your calling. And low spots can often swallow a strutting gobbler when he decides to display there instead of coming in to your setup.