Everything You Need to Know About Turkey Hunting
Hunting turkey can be really exciting especially if it’s your first time. These large, tasty birds tend to be tough, yet extremely engaging – the perfect recipe for a wild hunt.
Generally, turkey hunters live for the confrontations ensuing in the final 50 yards. It could take hours for the game to approach your call or end in a heartbeat if not careful. It’s all about the drama, staying in the moment and engaging your game.
If you are looking to get in on all the fun, we got you covered with essential turkey hunting tips. Let’s have a look at what wild turkey hunting is all about, shall we?
Must-Have Gear for Hunting Turkey
As is the case with all hunting expeditions, wild turkey hunting requires personalized gear. Here are some of the things you want to bring along for a successful trip.
When it comes to turkey hunting, full camouflage is more of a necessity than an option. These wild birds have sharp eyes and if you’re not careful, all your efforts may easily end in a flash. To remain hidden, you’ll need a camouflage jacket, shirt, pants, a pair of gloves and face mask. Camouflaging is all about color, meaning it would be in your best interest to wear a pattern featuring lots of grey and brown in regions with little foliage.
Turkey Hunting Vest
Every hunter carries lots of gear and wild turkey hunting is certainly no exception. You’ll have to find space for your maps, decoys, snacks, shells, water, strikers, calls and flashlight just to name a few. In this regard, nothing matches up to a premium turkey hunting vest. A quality turkey vest is not only designed to secure all your hunting basics, but also keep your totes well organized and silent. The vests pack plenty of pockets with each intended for specific gear.
Wild turkeys roam a lot, meaning you have plenty of ground to cover. It therefore goes without saying that having the right pair of boots is of paramount importance. Before investing in the perfect pair, you’ll have to identify the terrain you intend to cover and the weather conditions involved. Ask yourself if the terrain has snakes or whether you’ll be hunting in wet conditions. If so, you want calf-high rubber boots to keep your feet comfortable and dry throughout.
You can read our Best Rubber Hunting Boots Reviews to choose the right one for turkey hunting.
Wild turkey are traditionally brought down using a shot gun and for this reason, most pro hunters have a dedicated turkey gun in their collection. The goal is to target the head, dismantle the spine and instantly break the whole nervous system; nothing does the job better than a shotgun. Generally speaking, a good shotgun needs to have a non-reflective finish, fit well so that you can shoot well and throw a good pattern once you aim.
You simply cannot forget about the calls before you go out for turkey hunting. Different types of calls such as slate/glass call, box call, diaphragm call are available for calling turkey. You can use any one of them, but you must know the tricks and techniques of using those calls.
Here is a video tutorial on using a Glass Turkey Call:
How to Use a Glass or Slate Turkey Call
Steps on How to Hunt Turkey
As earlier mentioned wild turkey hunting can be extremely fun and engaging. Here’s a step-by-step guideline on how to hunt turkey.
1. Call Somebody
Seasoned hunters can come in handy when heading out for your expedition. Try asking the hunting aficionados for some help primarily about the grounds you want to cover. Most pros are more than happy to share valuable tips with starters. If you’re fortunate,they will offer to tag along if your schedules work out. Hunting with a pro allows you to focus on the surroundings as he/she works on the calling.
2. Be the Early Bird
Turkey can be hunted at any time of the day, but you want to be set up by sunrise when a vast majority of the birds are lazy and vulnerable. Even if you manage to get started at legal shooting time, the breaking sunlight over the horizon can be enough to expose your cover to the sharp-eyed birds. In a nutshell, this isn’t the sport for folks who enjoy sleeping in.
3. Making the Call
As a beginner, chances are you have no experience calling turkeys and this may leave you at a disadvantage in the woods. You therefore want to listen in on the numerous recordings of turkey calls and how effective they are before hitting the field.
For amateur hunters, I highly recommend using a box call due to their simplistic nature and effectiveness. For the pros, push button calls are more than adequate and the best part is, you only need one hand to operate them. In regards to making a call, less is always more, more so when you have a game in sight.
4. Remain Invisible
With other forms of hunting, scent control is of paramount importance. However, you need to focus on remaining invisible with turkey after you make the call.
Concealment here is everything. It would be in your best interest to cover everything from your face, hands and legs with camouflage clothing. When it comes to face masks, I recommend the ¾ model that is easy to pull down or adjust if need arises. As far as gloves go, the grip serves as the primary factor that should rank high on your list of priorities.
Speaking of concealment, some hunters prefer to use ground blinds, but to some extent, they actually limit your mobility. You are better off investing in a premium turkey vest and comfortable butt pad placed against a tree.
5. Placing the Decoy
Wild turkey hunting without decoys is not new. However, your chances of walking back to your truck with a game at hand dramatically increases when decoys are used.
The type of decoy to set up actually depends on the season. For early season turkey hunting, a hen decoy with a gobbler should brew enough jealousy to bring about a tom within shooting range. Conversely, you want a hen or two later in the year and leave the male decoys at home.
6. Choosing the Bird
If everything goes as it should, a flock of turkey will approach you. When this happens, you should pick out a healthy bird or two before they get within range. Worth noting is that hens are a huge “NO” during spring season. They usually sport dull plumage and are smaller with pale heads when compared to their male counterparts. Male turkeys on the flip-side are larger and have beards.
If it’s your first turkey hunting experience, any turkey is a good turkey. For the pros, though, it’s a whole different story – the hunter that shoots down the gobbler with the biggest beard wins.
7. Shot Placement
Taking head shots only would be in your best interest when hunting turkey. This helps avoid spitting out pellets of debris at the dinner table. A good range to consider a shot is around 45 yards. Once you identify your gobbler within range, wait for it to pop its head up and take your shot. Some seasoned hunters usually give it a cluck or two to draw the bird’s attention and pop up its head.
8. What Next?
If things go as planned, your shot should drop the birde instantly. However, there is a possibility the bird will start running off; your cue to take a follow up shot. You obviously would hate your game to get out of sight only to find a predator on the loose after a gruesome search party. Once it hits the ground, move towards it slowly and tag it first before thinking of moving the game. Remember to take a selfie or two – it looks better with the woods in your background.
Every hunting expedition has some ground rules intended at enhancing safety, besides of course guaranteeing a successful hunt. Here are some essential turkey hunting tips.
Always Stay Prepared
Any pro hunter will tell you that it doesn’t hurt to do some research on turkey hunting and your terrain, before hitting the woods. Do your homework prior to heading for the woods and chances are, your mentor will likely appreciate the enthusiasm.
As a hunter, discipline should be a quality you embrace. The whole sport involves categorical timelines being that the early bird always catches the worm – or the bird in this case. Also, never let your mentor wait for you just because your alarm didn’t go off.
Before taking up turkey hunting as a sport, it would be in your best interest to learn some safety and firearm handling basics. Don’t forget to review the hunting regulations of your state prior to the season while at it.
As earlier mentioned, a turkey can come within range and run off in a flash after waiting for hours in the cold. To avoid scaring away the bird, exercise due patience and pick your shot carefully. It would be a shame to jump at a shot and scare away a flock.
Hunting is not just about pulling the trigger, but more importantly, learning about the species and comprehensive habitat. Therefore, you should always keep in mind that hunting is a never-ending learning curve. Always be proactive by seeking to learn more even as a pro.
Be Polite and Thankful
As earlier stated, getting a mentor or seasoned turkey hunter to tag along is a privilege by all means (even your mom or dad). Show some interest by learning all you can, listening for tips and remaining patient. The outdoors always provides a chance to bond.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Is there a designated time to hunt turkey?
A. No. Hunting turkey is possible even in the middle of the day. However, you want to pick a spot and set up way before the sun rises to avoid getting exposed to the sharp-eyed birds. In a nutshell, be settled an hour before sunrise.
Q. What type of call is best suited for turkey hunting?
A. It all depends on your skill level. For starters, using a box call is highly recommended. They not only produce surreal turkey sounds, but more importantly, are easy to use. For the pros, I recommend a push button call. Sure, it takes some practice to learn the ropes, but it only takes one hand to operate.
Q. Is scent control necessary for wild turkey hunting?
A. No. Scent control is not needed for turkey hunting. With turkey hunting, all you need is an effective call, a decoy or two and a powerful gun to finish the job. Their main strength lies in their eye-sight meaning you want to bring along camouflage clothing while at it.
Wrapping It Up
In a nutshell, the tips above should come in handy when hunting turkey. Remember that hunting in general is a learning process and not just a sport. With this in mind, take your time to learn about the birds and how the adapt in their natural habitat. The knowledge will certainly be of great use at one point or another.
Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that bird hunting is quite different from other forms of hunting. Don’t forget that turkeys can fly to safety meaning you either get your shot right or lose a whole flock in a flash. As you may have gathered, your safest bet lies in a head shot. Take time before pulling the trigger and always remain patient until the bird is within range.
Finally, how well you are equipped can be the difference between a successful turkey hunt and bummer. Be sure to invest in the right hunting gear and a good shotgun or two just for good measure. The woods can be extremely dangerous, so be on your toes at all times.