Turkey hunting is definitely an addicting sport. There isn’t much that compares to calling in a gobbler from a good distance and having an opportunity to harvest him. A big tom turkey is what all trophy turkey hunters dream of. There are a few basic tips to follow when trying to tag a good sized bird.
1. The Early Bird Gets the Worm
One of the first things I realized when I decided to expand my time in the field from just deer hunting was how early I had to get up. In the fall during deer season sunrise comes a lot later than it does in the spring. I was not accustomed to getting up at what seemed to be the middle of the night. Not only does the sun come up earlier for spring turkey season, but you’d better get to your location good and early to arrive undetected. When it comes to hunting turkey, the earlier the better.
2. Full Camouflage
Not unlike any type of hunting you need to blend in with the environment but this is pronounced 10 fold when hunting big toms. Turkey can see exceptionally well and they can spot you even if your camo pattern doesn’t match your surroundings. The good thing about hunting turkey is that they cannot smell which is nice after being so scent conscious during the whitetail season but they make up for that with sight. You can’t get away with non matching camo patterns or not wearing a face mask when it’s turkey time. You have to go all out and wear camouflage that blends well and wear it from head to toe. Your equipment, turkey vest, and weapon also needs to blend in – leave nothing to chance.
3. Act Like a Statue
Despite wearing the right camo from head to toe you better not move a muscle when a bird is looking your way. Anyone that has turkey hunted for any amount of time has been busted by turkey. It’s amazing really, sometimes you don’t even know how they saw you when you’re watching them run off. No movement is key to bagging a nice bird. This is why I like to use a diaphragm mouth call when a tom gets in close. Being able to cluck or cut hands free while mounting a gun is a huge advantage. You won’t get a way with the movement you do when deer hunting. This is why hunting turkey with a bow is very challenging.
4. Don’t Just Sit There
Unlike some hunts, you don’t just sit there after pulling the trigger. You need to jump up and go after the turkey. These birds are tough and I have seen them do some amazing things after being shot. Jump up and run after that bird once you’ve shot him. Grab them up if you can or step on their neck to finish them off. I witnessed a buddy shoot a bird from only 20 yards away. After it stopped rolling and came to, it took off into the woods. It flew up into a tree and perched on a branch. After a few minutes it started to sway back and forth and then fell backwards out of the tree and hit the ground only to get up again and run off never to be found. If only he would have went after it when he shot it the first time.
5. Don’t Talk Too Much
Most turkey hunters will carry several calls with them into the field and that is fine. Many times the gobblers won’t respond to one call but will another. But calling to them too much can be a mistake. A hen yelp is a great locator call. When a tom gobbles back and starts to move towards the suspected hen you have to be patient and let him come. Call once in a while just to make sure he is still headed your way but don’t get yourself busted by using your mouth call like a trumpet. Keep calling to a minimum and it will be a lot more effective.
6. Don’t Give Up
Turkey hunting can be frustrating some days. You’ll set up and see birds in the distance so you’ll move and set up over there only to see birds over where you just left. I’ve had this happen several times in a day’s hunt. Some days the toms just aren’t responsive and calling to them seems like a waste of time. Like with any hunting, there are good days and bad. Don’t give up and be persistent and sooner or later you’ll harvest a good bird.
Most of all get out there and experience turkey hunting first hand. There is nothing that can take the place of hands on experience and learning from your mistakes. When the conditions are right, turkey hunting is one of the most exciting times spent in the woods.
Thanks for reading and happy turkey hunting!