Editor’s Note: Parrey Cremeans is the far-West big-game Pro Staff manager for Mossy Oak. He also guides for elk, mule deer, blacktail deer and other species in California, Mexico and other areas with Just For Hunting, a full-service outfitter (visit www.justforhunting.com or call 650-888-0808). If you plan to hunt in the far West, make your reservations now. If you can’t get in for this year’s hunting season, go ahead, and book for next year.
Hunting Rio Grande turkeys in northern California is different from hunting them in Texas or Oklahoma. Hunting Rio Grande turkeys out here in California is more difficult than Eastern hunters think, mainly because you have to scout so much more to take them. Our gobblers stay henned-up throughout much of the turkey season and move in large flocks. To find a stand where you have a chance to harvest a gobbler, you have to scout and learn where they go after they leave their roost trees. The real trick to taking these gobblers is to call on the days when they’re willing to leave all their girlfriends in the flock and come check you out. Turkey hunting in California is becoming very popular, so you probably won’t find a secret spot that someone else hasn’t found to call in a longbeard. One of the problems with hunting turkeys out here is that since Rio Grande turkeys like to gobble, anyone who wants to find a Rio usually can.
When I’m hunting turkeys, I like to wear Mossy Oak Obsession camouflage, because it has so much green in it. We hunt turkeys in the same terrain where we hunt blacktail deer, primarily low-oak savannas but also around some agriculture. We usually set-up in open country to call turkeys, and if we have bowhunters, we’ll usually hunt from blinds. We also use decoys. I feel like the most-effective decoys are the real-life stuffers (real mounted turkeys). I also use some Zink decoys. Another thing that’s different about hunting turkeys in California is that you’ll need to wear hiking boots. We’ll hunt turkeys on 5,000 acres up to 10,000 acres. This is one of the reasons I like the Zink decoys, because I can deflate them, carry them in a bag and blow them up quickly when I want to take a stand. If you’ve never hunted turkeys in the far West, I suggest you give it a try. We have different terrains and types of turkeys than in the East. A true turkey hunter likes to hear turkeys gobble and talk back to them, and out here you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do that.