published Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Hunting swamp turkeys requires extra patience


by Dan Cook
  • photo
    Contributed Photo Marty Fischer discusses hunting swamp turkeys.

Marty Fischer, who hosts the television show “TNT Outdoor Explosion,” grew up looking for turkeys in the Savannah River swamp region of South Carolina.

“To me, a mature bird that is born and raised in a deep swamp is the toughest turkey you can hunt,” Fischer said at this year’s National Wild Turkey Federation convention in Nashville.

“Minimize your calling. Maximize your woodsmanship,” Fischer advised. “Walk like a turkey. Don’t walk like a bull in a china shop. Get down in those bottoms and be as patient as you’ve ever been.”

Because of the extra patience required, swamp hunting can be the most boring of any, he added. Turkeys there don’t do a lot of gobbling.

“If I go for a little while and I hear absolutely nothing, yeah, I’ll move,” Fischer said. “But I’m not going to go crazy with it.”

Hunters wishing to complete the “Grand Slam” of turkey hunting must include an Osceola, which is found only in Florida, largely in lowlands. Some hunters pay thousands of dollars to a guide for a chance to kill one.

“The most important thing for you to realize is that from the time that turkey has been put on the ground as an egg, something has been trying to kill it,” Fischer said. “They’ve got bobcats trying to attack them from above. They’ve got coyotes.

“It’s always going to be dark. Your visibility is going to be limited. There’s so much green stuff on the ground. Those birds will use that as cover.”

Swamp turkeys know their lives depend on every step they take, Fischer said. They will peek around trees to study the environment, leaving nearby hunters unaware of their presence.

“Keep in mind, you’re walking into his kitchen, his living room,” Fischer said.

As a result, anything that looks different can make the turkey suspicious.

“(Swamp) turkeys love the roots along a creek,” Fischer said. “They can hear predators walking in the water. They’ll roost along those creek bottoms or along ponds. There tends to be a lot of owls there.

“But I’m not going to start off with an owl call, especially if I’ve got an ol’ owl that will do it for me. ... Everybody gets too caught up in wanting to call too much.”

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