Cutting Track – Bobs Turkey Calls

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Turkey hunting tips and tricks
Turkey hunting tips and tricks

Turkey Hunting – “cuttin track” “Cuttin track” is an effective method of hunting turkeys. You have probably heard that to be successful hunting turkeys you need to think like a turkey. Truth is you need to think “better” than a turkey! Wild turkeys have some of the sharpest senses in the animal kingdom and they are extremely wary. To say they are alert is an understatement. This leads many turkey hunters to believe that they are highly intelligent, even smarter than themselves.

Don’t despair; they are not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Their instincts have been honed through eons of being hunted by everything from ferrets to foxes, but that doesn’t mean they are capable of reasoning. If you put your mind to it, you can outsmart them. A perfect example of this is a method of hunting that the old timers called “cuttin track.” This doesn’t work in all terrain and habitats, but when you have dirt roads, graded roads, fire breaks, and utility right-of-way through your turkey range, it is a highly productive strategy.

In cutting track what you do is get up before daylight, as usual, and start driving the dirt roads through your hunting area as soon as you can see the ground. You drive slowly and as quietly as possible listening for turkeys calling and watching for tracks where turkeys have crossed the road. When you find tracks you can tell which side of the road the turkeys are on and with a little practice, about when they crossed, and whether there is a tom with them.

Cuttin' Track - photo thanks to NWTF
Cuttin’ Track – photo thanks to NWTF

Turkey Track Photo Source: NWTF Now you have to admit, that information puts you in a good position. If turkeys were smart they would simply fly across the road leaving no information for you to work with. Turkeys don’t sit around thinking “now how did that joker find me so quickly this morning?” They think about more basic things like food, water, lady turkeys, and other toms. Where does all of that other information come from? It comes from experience and common sense. You know which side of the road they are on by the direction of the track. You can estimate how old the track is with a little practice. If you checked this road last evening just before dark and the tracks weren’t there, the track is probably this morning’s track.

Look at the picture of the track above made available by the National Turkey Wildlife Federation. This is a fresh turkey track. The sides of the impression are sharp and crisp with no caving. There is no water pooled in the toe depressions even though the mud is obviously wet. There is no debris in the track like fallen leaves, twigs, or spider webs. There are no other animal tracks or marks over the turkey track. The track appears to be about four inches long and the bird was heavy from the depth of the impression indicating a tom made it not long ago. If you saw this track on the road you would know which side of the road this tom was on and you would know he is not far away. Where is he?

You don’t know for sure, but the last thing you want to do is to go charging through the woods after him. First make sure you are ready. Is your gun loaded, is the safety on, are you well camouflaged? Next scope out the surroundings in the direction he is traveling. If there is a rye grass field 100 yards ahead, you probably know where he is. If you are in pines and palmetto and you see a group of oak trees ahead, he’s probably there foraging for acorns. If there is a branch or creek ahead he is probably there. Turkeys like the forage and cover provided by these areas and they drink water.

If it is still early in the morning, say before 6:00, sit quietly and listen for 15 to 20 minutes. If it is later say pushing 9:00, wait and listen for at least half an hour. If you hear a gobble or yelp, yelp back but not too much or too loud. Move quietly toward the sound into the woods and find yourself a good ambush. Sit down and be perfectly still except for your calling movement and try to keep that hidden from his direction. Wait for another gobble and yelp back quietly. You know the drill. One thing that cannot be over stated –Be Patient! It may take half an hour of gobble and reply before the tom comes to you.

If he doesn’t want to come to your yelp and seems to be moving away, try a gobble or fighting purr to stir up his blood. If all that fails, he may never come to you. You can try to stalk him if you want to, but you would probably be better off looking for another track. There are as many ways of hunting wild turkey as there are hunters. Much of the strategy will be dictated by the terrain and circumstances and not the hunter. The key is to learn as much as you can about your quarry and if you are hunting an area where you can cut track, I highly recommend it. After all you may be the one to answer the age old question “Why did the turkey cross the road.”

By: Bob Adkinson CEO and Founder

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