Skip to main content

Deep-Woods Hunting For Pressured Turkeys

Deep-Woods Hunting For Pressured Turkeys

It was the third morning in a row I'd gotten up three hours before first light to drive from southeastern Minnesota to southwestern Wisconsin. A late-season turkey tag in my pocket was my motivation, and the Tiffany Wildlife Area was my destination. The 13,000-acre public property, which sits in in the heart of big buck country, also plays host to plenty of eastern gobblers.

My problem was that those gobblers had been hunted for weeks already. And that the bottoms for the most part, looked more like a suitable fishing spot than a place to whack a last-minute turkey. May rain showers had swelled the Chippewa River and most of the low-lying turkey spots were under water.

I'd waded through floodwaters and sat through the rain nearly nonstop for two days already and was edging closer to giving up on my tag entirely when I parked in the predawn darkness and consulted my maps and aerial photography. There was a private field bordering a high ridge on the public that looked awful tempting, but I knew getting there meant I'd need to wade. I also knew that no one else had probably made the attempt, at least within the last couple of weeks.

If you live in snake country, consider picking up a pair of Venom Snake Boots from LaCrosse so that you'll be safe in the turkey woods.


As soon as it was light enough to see, I slipped down into the ditch and then into the water. I wasn't worried about making too much noise because the rain was coming down hard enough to where the sound of it was general and it drowned out my own measured sloshing. After half of an hour, I made it to the spot I'd marked on my photos and climbed up the ridge. Through the trees I could see the distant alfalfa field, and knew it would take something special to get a bird to cross from that private buffet to the public rain-soaked ridge on which I settled in.


I'd been calling to those public-land birds for two days, and while I'd heard a few courtesy gobbles, that was about it. I was thinking about that less-than-stellar track record when after my first calling sequence a red head popped out of the foliage not 25 yards from me. I knew he was a jake, but unfortunately for him I don't trophy hunt turkeys. I'll admit it felt pretty satisfying to carry that bird back through the flooded slough to my truck, the whole time thinking that it would have never happened without being able to access some lightly pressured, hard-to-get-to ground.

Turkeys By The Deer Playbook

Public-land deer hunters understand that all of the good stuff happens where people are less likely to go. This is true in the turkey woods as well, but isn't nearly as common of a hunting strategy. Maybe it's because most hunters don't want to work as hard for a bird. Generally speaking though, if it requires a serious hike, a climb, or involves a bit of wading, most turkey hunters won't do it.

If you want to kill pressured gobblers, you'd better be willing to hike.

This is good news for you if you're willing to put in a little extra effort. My general rules when I'm hunting pressured ground — especially public land — is to study aerial photography and figure out where most hunters are likely to spend their time. Easy access, field edges, and normal turkey-looking spots like meadows and clearings, are all off my list.


Take a look at the hills you could climb, or the rivers you might be able to cross to start narrowing down less-pressured areas. If you have to go straight up for a while, or wade a stream or a river, you'll leave an awful lot of competition behind. Don't worry if the ridgetop doesn't have a dreamy two-acre meadow, or the chunk of woods across the stream doesn't also border a picked cornfield. Once the woods have started to green up, turkeys can find food just about anywhere, so calories alone won't be the driving force — but safety will.

Getting to spots other hunters simply won't go to could be the difference maker.

They'll naturally migrate to places where people aren't constantly trying to shoot them in the face with a shotgun, and that's where you should go as well. But be prepared, you'll need the right gear to get there.


Equipment Realities

Treat your deep-woods turkey hunt more like a day-excursion for elk. Layer up, carry the right pack, and think about exactly what you really need for a day of hunting. Plan accordingly with decoys and bulky gear to streamline your setup. And then, take a look at your feet.

LaCrosse Venom Snake Boot

Many of us only consider wearing specific boots for turkeys when we're down south where we might step on a venomous snake. In this case, LaCrosse Footwear's Venom Snake Boot in Mossy Oak NWTF Obsession is a good choice, of course. For the rest of the country, it is very hard to beat the Alphaburly Pro.

These are my go-to public-land boots for a few reasons. The first is that they are the only knee-highs I'm comfortable hiking all day while wearing. That means I can wade through plenty of water without getting soaked, and can hike up bluffs without getting blisters. The secret to this is a combination of scent-free rubber and insulating neoprene along with a cushioning and highly comfortable EVA Midsole. Alphaburly Pros also feature an adjustable rear gusset so you can cinch them up for a perfect fit and don't have that annoying calf-slapping thing going on with most poor-fitting knee-highs.

LaCrosse Alphaburly Pro

These boots weigh less than five pounds per pair, and are offered in a non-insulated version, which is usually the best way to go for turkey season (for deer season I opt for the 1000G or 1600G versions depending on the timing of the season). If you're not into buying a pair solely for turkey season, opt for a mid-level insulation boot to have the best of both worlds throughout the entire year from spring turkey hunts to November mornings on deer stand.

Conclusion

The reality for many of us is we're hunting places where the easy animals don't exist. That means we've got to work to get to where the best hunting is, and that often means pulling on a pair of knee-highs and covering enough ground to leave the competition behind. If that's sound about right, outfit yourself with boots that you'll want to wear all day long while getting to where others won't go.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Kevin Steele sights in his CZ .557 carbine rifle that he plans to use on a Colorado elk hunt.

.500 S&W vs. the King of the Beasts

.500 S&W vs. the King of the Beasts

Smith & Wesson's Tony Miele and host Kevin Steele track an African lion across the Kalahari for the ultimate handgun showdown with the King of the Beasts.

Hunting Coues Deer South of the Border

Hunting Coues Deer South of the Border

Former Delta Force Operator Kyle Lamb hikes the rugged desert mountains of northern Sonora in pursuit of the diminutive Coues species of whitetail.

Moon Phase Rut Tips

Moon Phase Rut Tips

John Dudley, technical writer and host of Nock On TV discusses why it's imporant to follow moon phases for the rut.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

We're deciphering new deer data for rut success.Daylight Deer Movement During the Rut Whitetail

Daylight Deer Movement During the Rut

Jeff Johnston

We're deciphering new deer data for rut success.

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd? Conservation

Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd?

Jeff Johnston

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.

Check out the new fleet of off-road options for hunters.2020 ATV Buyer's Guide Wheels Afield

2020 ATV Buyer's Guide

Rick Sosebee - June 23, 2020

Check out the new fleet of off-road options for hunters.

The outdoor industry gets serious about recruiting new hunters with some curious marketing strategies.Are New Hunter Recruitment Strategies Working? Conservation

Are New Hunter Recruitment Strategies Working?

Andrew McKean - May 05, 2020

The outdoor industry gets serious about recruiting new hunters with some curious marketing...

See More Trending Articles

More Wing Shooting



Out West, big game gets all the glory, but the left half of the country offers an unbelievable2015 Western Upland Game Planner Wing Shooting

2015 Western Upland Game Planner

David Draper - October 23, 2015

Out West, big game gets all the glory, but the left half of the country offers an...

Kevin Steele, Jim McConville and Synergy's Pete Angle wait for the fog to lift for a shot at anFoggy Turkey Hunt Wing Shooting

Foggy Turkey Hunt

PHTV Adventures - June 26, 2015

Kevin Steele, Jim McConville and Synergy's Pete Angle wait for the fog to lift for a shot at an

You've been dreaming about it since the day you called in your first gobbler. It's called the GrandBest States to Complete Your Turkey Grand Slam This Year Wing Shooting

Best States to Complete Your Turkey Grand Slam This Year

David Hart - April 03, 2015

You've been dreaming about it since the day you called in your first gobbler. It's called the...

Kali Parmley heads to Pike County Illinois to chase turkeys.Pike County Turkey Chase Wing Shooting

Pike County Turkey Chase

PHTV Adventures - August 07, 2017

Kali Parmley heads to Pike County Illinois to chase turkeys.

See More Wing Shooting

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now