Winter is on its way out, making room for spring and all of the awesome things that come with that. Including my favorite, spring turkey hunting!
For me turkey hunting is a close second to elk hunting because of the all-around excitement caused by them responding to calls, or better yet actually coming in to them! Not to mention how the males get extremely fired up as the season progresses, and turn to size each other up because the females are ready to mate. If you’ve never experienced the thrilling sound of turkey gobbles or elk bugles lighting up the woods then you’re definitely missing out! The first time I was able to encounter any of this action I was hooked, so thankfully a turkey license is much easier (and cheaper) to come by than an elk license! If you’ve ever considered turkey hunting but just aren’t sure where to start, here’s a few tips to get you on track and hopefully on a turkey:
- Hunting License -Purchase the required license/stamps and get information regarding season dates, harvest limits, game management zones, and everything else you need to know before going out.
- Hunting Grounds – Public and private land are both great options for you to hunt on. An area with food & water sources, ground coverage, and roosting trees are all things I look for; in addition to scat, tracks, and upturned dirt.
- Locating – The sooner you can locate and monitor the turkeys, the better off you’ll be when opening day comes. If you can figure out their roosting location you’ll definitely put yourself at an advantage. Crow calls or gobbles in the morning and evening will usually evoke any nearby tom to gobble.
- Target Practice – Whether you’re using a shotgun or a bow, plenty of target practice is always helpful beforehand to ensure you and your weapon are hitting accurately. Practice shooting from the positions you’ll most likely find yourself stuck in when a long beard rolls through, usually that’s sitting or crouching.
- Concealment – Turkeys can see and hear almost everything so you’ll need to be well camouflaged and quiet. For me, the Girls With Guns ¼ zip long sleeve stalker, paired with the lightweight pants (midweight if it’s cold), and 3-layer vest is perfect for that. For my face I use a face mask or Nature’s Paint, an all-natural face paint that goes on and comes off effortlessly.
- Calls – Turkey calls are an essential part of the hunt. Having mouth, box, and slate calls will give a variety of sounds and the impression of more than one hen. The “Turkey Tech with Scott Ellis” app is a great tool for learning what each call means and how to respond accordingly. If you aren’t confident enough to call on your own, find someone that can help you. They can work from a different cover position to call, drawing a tom’s attention behind you instead of on you.
- Decoys – Although decoys aren’t necessary for a successful hunt they can definitely better the chances of one. You can use a hen/jake set-up to provoke a jake or tom to come in for a challenge. A full strutter decoy will get the attention of a big tom that’s already henned up. My favorite is the Ultimate Predator Gear ”Stalker Decoy”, especially for the long beards that refuse to close the distance.
Lastly, just have fun! Don’t be afraid to be a beginner and remember that everyone has to start somewhere. If your first attempt at calling in a turkey is unsuccessful, don’t be discouraged. There are so many helpful resources that you can take advantage of, but the best learning always comes from experience. Gear up and get out there!