It is here; it’s Turkey Season! Game On! In most parts of the country we are just weeks away from the start of our favorite rites of spring pastime, Wild Turkey hunting. So for those of you who may need a bit of a basic coverage on the topic in case it is your first time out, or for more experienced Wild Turkey hunters that just might need a refresher, here are some key points to help make this Turkey season very successful.
Scouting Wild Turkey
Finding areas where you want go Wild Turkey hunting is probably one of the most important factors to successfully hunting Wild Turkey. This needs to be done well in advance of the season to find the best possible areas, but should also be done a day or two before your hunt as well. For the most part, Turkeys are creatures of habit and often use the same patterns, so finding where they feed and how they get there and where they go to roost will be key in your ability to wait and ambush them as they move to those areas or fly down from their roost.
Pattern your Shotgun for Turkey
There are many types of Shotguns on the Market that will work just fine for hunting Wild Turkey, so we are going to assume you already have your gun of choice and now need to decide what Shotgun Shells to use. Two factors to consider are the gauge of your Shotgun and the size of the shells it takes. Without going into ballistics, you need to find the maximum distance that you can take a Turkey with a quality and ethical shot. Then practice, preferably with a target shaped like a Turkey and then by aiming at its neck in order to see and understand the pattern of the shot upon impact at that distance. Nothing tastes nastier than a pellet cracking a tooth when biting into a dinner of Turkey Breast. We might also suggest making sure that if you are using a scope that takes batteries, make certain they are fresh, as it kind of sucks calling a Wild Turkey in and then not being able to power on the cross hairs or red dot.
Create or purchase a Turkey Blind
After scouting, I would have a few blinds around the area I wanted to hunt, which I created with any brush or timber I found, and then make a nice little comfortable spot for me to sit. I’d usually stay put until I had enough sitting and might decide to go on the offensive with some run and gun techniques. Wild Turkeys have incredible eyesight so blending in to your surroundings is vital to success, as is staying still as possible. As I got a bit older I decided that I could only stay still for so long, as the cold ground under my butt and a tree at my back made me a bit twitchy, so I invested in a pop-up blind for Turkey hunting. I love it! I sit in comfort after placing my decoys and take it easy while ocassionally trying to call in birds. Always keep in mind that while deer will bust you in a heartbeat with their noses, it’s a Turkey’s eyes and ears that are your worst nightmare!
Choosing the right Turkey decoy
There are hundreds of great decoys on the market for Wild Turkey hunting and you really need to approach this much in the same way you bought your shotgun, by what can you afford and what are you looking to accomplish? Are you trying to get a Gobbler jealous and have him coming in fighting or are you just trying to lure in some Jakes that still may be a bit stupid? I have had really good success with a Jake, one standing hen and a feeding hen placed about 15 yards from the blind. Remember don’t place them too far out as you want the birds to come to the decoys, bringing them closer for your shot. In some areas of the country, birds have become wary of decoys and avoid them, ask around if this is the case in your area.
Calling Wild Turkey
First of all, let me say that practicing with your Turkey call is very important as a bad call can be worse than no calling at all. There are many videos and music CD’s that will help you with the types and rhythm of the various sounds used to call Wild Turkey and a musical background is definitely a big help. You also need to know when to use what type of call and what you are trying to accomplish with that particular sound. Yelps, clucks and purrs all signify something different in the world Wild Turkey hunting. Whether you are using a box call, a mouth call or some type of friction call make sure it is in good working order and do not practice in the same area you are going to hunt. Sitting in front of your Television and practicing along with a professional is the best idea to start.
Key Tips for Wild Turkey Hunting
Wild Turkey fly down from their roosting trees sometime around dawn, therefore you need to be set up in blind with your decoys strategically placed well before there is any light in the eastern sky. If there is a full moon or the sky has enough light to display your silhouette you need to be extra careful and stay to the tree line as long as possible while trying to be extremely quiet. Wild Turkeys on the roost can still hear and see you.
Once set up in your blind you need to be listening for roosting Wild Turkeys, as they will often give up their position before dawn. Using a locator call which can mimic an owl or crow can get Turkeys on the roost to start sounding off, even a bit of thunder may do the trick. What is important when listening for roosting Turkeys is that you may hear a Gobbler light up well away from where you had set up, and you may then decide to go to him and set up in anticipation of the fly down from the roost.
A good friend of mine once asked me what time of day do I like to go Turkey Hunting, and my response was quite simple, “anytime I can get out there!” Last season I was sitting with my very good friend Dave Sumner (the creator of Turkey Dave’s Foot Rest and Flirty Girty ice fishing jigs), at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. We just wanted to enjoy a beautiful spring day in Wisconsin for an hour two and were quietly shooting the breeze in our blind when we decided it was time to go to the local pub. Just as Dave was about to stand up and exit the blind I spotted about 20 Wild Turkeys coming out of the tree line less than 15-20 yards away! When hunting with a friend we usually have a plan for taking two birds at the same time, 3…2…1…BANG! And the season was a success!