Here are a few suggestions.
You can hunt one of the many public hunting areas in California. I’ve posted info about several of them on my blog. Check the archives for Cache Creek Wildlife Area and Daugherty Hill Wildlife Area. I’ve been on several successful turkey hunts on these state-owned lands.
The first turkey we ever called in was on a Cache Creek hunt, we were shocked and he strutted in to 15 yards from Rob, who never quite drew his bow. Yes we were archery hunting for turkeys before we ever came close to killing one. Finally, we came to our senses and began hunting with shotguns.
If you’re serious about turkey hunting, you must also check out Fort Hunter-Liggett and Spenceville. I’ve also had success on these public areas. In fact, I believe I bagged the first spring gobbler ever recorded at Fort Hunter-Liggett.
I wrote about this a long time ago in California Hunter Magazine. Here’s how it went.
In April of 1988, I made a call to the check station at Fort Hunter-Liggett. The following weekend would be the first turkey hunt of the season. A voice on the phone told me that there were only two spaces left and asked which area I wanted to hunt. I responded that I didn’t know any of the areas, so it really didn’t matter. He suggested Area 2 and I said, “fine, thanks.”
Leaving home, I was pessimistic about my chances for turkeys. No birds had been killed at Fort Hunter-Liggett during the previous season. That ment forever as the previous season had been the first turkey season ever at Fort Hunter-Liggett. The report I received was: turkey hunters – 28, kills 0.
However, as I left the check station I felt a twinge of optimism. As I drove to the hunting area to look around, the habitat was impressive. There was plenty of good cover and food. I also knew that Fort Hunter-Liggett harbored large populations of quail, deer, wild pigs, dove and band-tailed pigeons. Why not turkeys as well?
It was about 5:30 AM when I climbed a ridge overlooking the center of the area. I found turkeys and also two hunters, but after the hunters became disenchanted and left for parts unknown, I decided to pursue the same birds which they had been harassing.
Stopping at a nearby flat, I sat down and made a couple of calls with my mouth diaphragm. A gobbler responded from about 300 to 400 yards to the east. I placed my single hen decoy in the open about 20 yards from a brush patch in which I hid. The remainder of the story was textbook.
I sat still for only a few minutes before the bird walked in straight towards my decoy. As he stood next to it, completely involved, I fired a load of #5 buffered shot at him from my old Winchester Model 12. I don’t know if I hit him, but he flew skyward as I blasted again and again.
On the third shot he fell and landed with a thump, about 35 yards away. According to the check station attendant, this was the first turkey ever taken at Fort Hunter-Liggett. It is still a prized memory and it involved a great deal of luck.
By the way, it was also my first turkey – killed after many unsuccessful hunts.
Now if you want to hunt in the East Bay, you can attend the Central Coast Chapter of MDF’s banquet tomorrow night (3-36-2011) in San Jose. They will be selling a one-day turkey hunt on a private ranch located near Livermore donated/guided by your’s truly. We’ve had pretty good success on that property, but every year is different.
For tickets and information: http://www.muledeer-ccc.org/index.html