HomeOutdoorsTips From Realtree On Finding A Roosted Turkey

Tips From Realtree On Finding A Roosted Turkey

by Brett Stayton
Turkey Takes Flight From Tree
Photo by Diana Robinson/Getty Images

Wild turkeys spend the vast majority of their life walking around on the ground. They are actually capable of clumsily flying well enough to get up into the tree canopy too though. In fact, they spend their nights roosting in trees safe from predators prowling the forest floor at night. One of the most popular and effective methods of hunting a turkey is locating one just before dawn or at first light while it gobbles from its roost. Once turkeys are on the ground, they don’t stay put long. That mean’s finding one its roost might be your best chance at success.

Learning how to triangulate the location of a roosted gobbler is a valuable skill every turkey hunter should learn. Our friends at Realtree recently published an in-depth article on doing just that, and Outsider is sharing their secrets.

Turkey gobbles can reverberate up to a mile or more depending on a variety of factors. Terrain, distance, leaves, foliage, rain, fog, road noise, and other variables can make pinpointing the exact location of a gobbling turkey’s roost a difficult task.

Listen Up To Find A Roosted Turkey At First Light

Realtree describes Ron Jolly from Alabama as a “turkey hunting wizard.” He said he starts all of his hunts by standing in an open area. Then he uses his ears to survey a large swath of the woods he’s hunting. “My daddy taught me that the key to hearing is how you listen, he says “If I’m hunting with a friend, we don’t talk at first light. I walk 20 or 30 yards away from him to a spot where I can hear well in all directions. That way I can hear and course a gobble better, and he can too.”

He also adds that it’s easy to get all jacked up the first time you hear a big tom let that gobble rip. Immediately dashing off into the woods after the bird isn’t necessarily the best move. He advises hunters to just chill, stay calm, keep listening, and start formulating a plan of attack. “After hearing and zeroing in on couple more gobbles, I look out through the dark woods and visualize a line to the turkey, and to the exact tree he’s sitting in,” he says.

Make Your Move Towards The Bird

Trying to determine the distance of the bird can be tough unless you can gain a visual confirmation of its location. Obviously though, the louder the gobble the closer the bird. If you’ve spent enough time turkey hunting, you should start developing a vague idea of how to judge the relative distance of a gobbler based on his volume. It’s also important to keep in mind that if a turkey is facing toward you, the gobble will sound a lot closer than if the bird has its back turned to you.

Jolly advises that if you’re within 150 yards of the roost, make your move quickly and quietly and get set up for a shot as soon as the bird leaves the tree. If the bird is further away than that, he suggests moving in about 30-yard increments while periodically stopping to wait for the bird to gobble again. The more patient you are, the more gobbles you’re likely to hear which works to your advantage.

This is part of the process where topography really matters though. A bird gobbling from a loud open ridge may sound like he’s only 150 yards away when he’s really closer to 300. Gobbles can bounce off slopes or echo through hills and hollers, so it’s important to remain aware of your surroundings. Move slow and take your time as you close the distance and get set up for a shot.

Close The Distance & Pull The Trigger

As you get closer to the bird, it’s important to try and use cover to your advantage. Watch where you’re stepping so you don’t make too much noise, and stay tucked behind foliage, ground cover, or other natural structure when you can. It also helps if you conceal yourself with some high-quality Realtree camo too though. Find a good spot close to the tree the bird is roosted in and then get set up.

Get your gun ready and start gently hitting your turkey calls. With any luck, that gobbler will dive right out of the tree and into a range of your scattergun. The final part of the equation is pretty simple. Just pull the trigger. If your shotgun is patterned right, the bird will start flopping and your adrenaline will keep pumping.