The experience of hunting turkeys is spellbinding, and for a large community of hunters, the allure is stronger than that of any other game. In fact, for some diehards, there is no other hunting…. except for turkey hunting.
Often referred to as the “big game bird”, turkeys require a hybrid of hunting tactics consisting of those commonly employed for archery deer or elk, combined with the classic techniques used by a waterfowler. Additionally, being one of the only non-predator species with a spring season, hunters relish the opportunity to take the field for a few weeks before hunting seasons open more widely in the fall.
Success largely depends on dozens of factors going right, and not the slightest thing going wrong. While a little luck on the hunt is always welcome, preparation is key. So, diligent hunters who do not want to leave anything to chance often take these steps before heading into the woods:
Gear Check: Do not wait for opening day. Go through a dry run and get it all out as if you are going on a real hunt. Make sure you have everything from your facemask to your box call and test it. Clean your 12 gauge and install the full choke. Head out to the range, fire a turkey load and check your pattern. When you hear that first call of a gobbler, the last thing you want to learn is that you are not completely ready.
Get the Lay of the Land: Know your hunt area and take the time to scout it in advance. Even veteran hunters who always hunt in the same location will notice changes in the environment year over year. Whether it is new deadfall or a dried-up creek bed, these subtleties can influence your strategy. Also, since most hunters will enter in the dark, it is an advantage to have a visual memory of the habitat as you work your way into your spot.
Do Your Homework: Turkey behavior evolves over the season, both due to the natural social dynamics of toms, jakes, and hens, and because of pressure from hunters. Whether it is the opener or the last day, hunters must weigh these different factors appropriately in order to tailor their game plan to best fit the situation. Great intel once came from guides, magazines, books, and tv shows, but nowadays extensive expert advice can be tapped into on the internet in the form of blogs and videos. You may just learn a new tip; such as, how and when to properly use an owl or a crow call, and increase your odds of bagging a trophy tom.
As turkey seasons open across the country, we would like to wish every hunter a safe and rewarding hunt!