Top Eight Turkey Hunting Tips
Turkey hunting is right around the corner. As February is wrapping up, soon the temperatures will start to rise, and the toms will begin to chase the hens. The spring is the best time of year to hunt turkeys, and this article is going to focus on the top eight tips when it comes to bagging a big ol tom this year.
Turkeys are one of those animals that can be addicting to hunt as well as frustrating. Trying to have a tom commit to your call and your decoys is a challenge in itself. Coupled with their keen eyesight and cautious attitudes it is one of the toughest animals to hunt. This does not mean they are impossible though, the eight tips provided below are meant to help you have a better plan for the spring season.
It is never good to be the guy that is wandering the woods at first shooting light on opening day trying to figure out where you are going to be hunting at. Instead, it is better to plan ahead and get out into the woods and scout.
No deer hunter believes the deer are either there or not, and they spend time setting trail cameras and looking for signs of deer activity. It should be the same with turkey hunting as well, and you can’t expect success if you don’t put the time and effort in on locating the birds. Whether its public or private or even a large tract of land and a small tract of land it is essential to spend the time scouting and to look for recent turkey activity.
Start seriously scouting hunting areas around 2 – 3 weeks before the season starts. This will help you find the mating areas, as well as where the birds have been roosting overnight. Look for fresh droppings as well as turkey feathers; these can be sure-fire signs that turkeys have been in the area. Once these spots are found, it becomes easier to set up the optimal hunting spot.
Another good scouting technique is to use trail cameras as well. While most hunters use them for deer hunting, turkey season is the perfect opportunity to break them out and help increase the chances of finding where the toms are headed on your property. Set trail cameras up near roosts, open fields, or logging roads that provides excellent shooting lanes. This will help a hunter decide where he or she should set up when the season starts.
Another thing to keep in mind is getting out into the woods early. Turkeys are most active vocally during the early mornings right before they come down from their roost. This is the perfect opportunity to use a locator call to try and pinpoint where turkeys have been roosting and then you can set up a spot 75 – 100 yards from the roost.
#2: Hunting the Roost
One of the best ways to kill gobblers is to find the roost. It has been proven to be one of the most effective forms of hunting gobblers, especially in the springtime. When the time is spent scouting it is easier to locate an area that turkeys may be roosting at. Turkeys will rarely leave their roost in the night, so if you can find out where they are roosting the night before, you can be better prepared in the morning.
As a hunter, it is important to not set up directly on a turkey's roost. If you move to close to them and spook them, they will fly away before you even have the chance to use your gun. Instead, the best option is to set up within 75 – 100 yards on the west side as every turkey will not travel into the rising sun as they can’t see predators with the sun blinding them. This gives a hunter enough room to allow the turkeys to come down from their roost without feeling pressured. Also, turkeys have been known to glide down from their roost and travel great distances. So setting up directly under one is not the best option.
One of the thrills of turkey hunting is calling. Listening to gobblers talk back and forth makes turkey hunting exciting and frustrating at the same time. When a hunter is talking back and forth and listening it can sound as if they are circling the area, and this is the excitement as well as the frustration. Improving calling techniques and working on calling in the offseason is one way to better the chances of killing a turkey in the spring.
Also, some other tips to consider is that every turkey hunter should have a wide variety of calls. It is good to bring a locator call, box call, mouth call, and slate call. Turkeys can be picky, and they may respond to one call over the other. Having multiple calls allow you to be diverse in your options.
It is best to switch to a mouth call before the turkey comes into range. If you can bring them in with the mouth call, it is less likely that the turkey will spot you using a box or slate call and you don’t have to worry as much about blowing your cover.
Don’t be afraid to use that locator call during the daytime as well. It can be an effective way to get turkeys talking and have them moving. No matter what happens, it is best to stay flexible and work on trying to find what the turkeys respond the most with, and this can change as the season progresses so stay flexible and ready.
Camouflage is one of the most important aspects of turkey hunting. Turkeys survive off their keen sense of sight and hearing. It allows them to see predators before they are able to strike. So, to hunt turkeys, it is very important that you cover your entire body in camouflage.
A lot of hunting brands have lightweight tops and bottoms that are perfect for turkey season, and they will provide the necessary camo as well as being lightweight and breathable during those hot spring days. Another good thing to buy is a hat and a facemask.
The last thing to buy is a good pair of boots. With the majority of turkey hunting taking place in the spring, there are also other animals that hunters should concern themselves with as well, Snakes… Snakes are more active during turkey season, and it is smart to invest in a good pair of snake boots that will protect you from any bites. Also covering your body will help to keep the chiggers and bugs from biting.
No matter what it is vital to make sure that all of your gear and body is completely camouflaged. If you don’t take the necessary precautions to cover yourself, you run the risk of spooking turkeys.
#5 Picking the Optimal Spot
All of the scouting and searching has helped lead to a great area to hunt, but now it is important that you pick the right tree to hunt from as well. All of the camouflage and calling is great, but if there aren’t shooting lanes and an area to set up in, then the chances of success are limited. When picking the right tree, there are few things that you should consider. First, you want to be where the gobblers want to be. This is where your hours of scouting will pay off. Normally this is near a roost area or in a strut zone. Secondly, it is best to pick a tree that is free of ants, snake, spiders, poison ivy, or poison sumac. This allows the hunter to sit longer without worrying about any harmful creatures or plants affecting his hunt later on.
Now that the unsafe trees have been eliminated, it is now time to focus on camouflage and a few other things. If hunting a field, try to find a tree that is 10 – 15 yards from the field, this provides the best cover from turkeys. It is also best to pick a tree that is as wide as you are. This allows your outline to be completely covered by the tree. Another important thing is to pick a tree that has a flat bottom at the base, as this helps make for a more comfortable sitting arrangement over long hours.
Last but not least you want to pick a tree in an area that does not block any shots. Turkeys are like any animal, and they don’t always work as you would want them too. It is important to stay flexible and to have multiple shooting lanes that aren’t blocked by smaller trees or bushes. Also, it can be helpful to set up in the shade, as this will provide more camouflage and make it much harder for turkeys to see you.
Another option is hunting turkeys from a blind, and this can be a fun way to set up in an area that does not have a lot of trees or options like an open field. This is also the best choice when hunting with a bow as it allows you more opportunities to draw the arrow back. It is also good when you are hunting with a younger hunter who finds it hard to sit still for long periods of time. It does however cut back on shots and situational awareness.
Decoys have become an integral part of turkey hunting, whether its full-size decoys or a fan it is important to try a number of them to see what works best for you. Turkey decoys have come a long way from even the past few years and the lifelike decoys of today are a great tool to increase the chances of killing a tom.
This is like any other kind of decoy, and it is best to play around and see what works best. When a turkey is approaching a spread, it takes the attention of the hunter calling and places all of the attention on the decoys. This allows you to get into a better position to make a shot. Most hunters like to use hens and jakes in the spring to try and attract larger toms. Also, some have found success by placing a large tom out and forcing another large tom to confront it, this is effective at killing the big turkeys, but it may scare smaller turkeys away.
It is best to bring a number of options, but it is hard to go wrong with a few decoys in an open field. Watching how the turkeys react is important and if success is found early then stick with it, but as the season progresses, be ready to adapt.
#7: The Right Turkey Load
This part of the article is not going to cover what shotgun to use since every hunter has his or her own preference when it comes to the turkey gun of their choice. Whether it is a semi-auto, pump or single shot is completely up to the user. However, there are a number of turkey loads that are proven to be much better than the competition and buying the right load could mean the difference between killing a turkey or not.
You are looking for power and a good pattern when looking for the right load. It is worth mentioning that a lot of turkey loads have a larger recoil, so that is something to get used to at the range before going into the field and shooting for the first time. Take the load to the range and make sure that the pattern works well and you are happy with it before going out to hunt.
It is best to choose something with a blended shot; this provides coverage from a turkey that is 50 yards away to the sneaky ones that slip in close when a hunter least expects it. The Federal 3rd degree is one of the best turkey loads on the market, and the coverage that is provided is second to none. It can reach out far as well as clean up the closer birds.
It is important to stay safe when hunting. Never wear anything that is red white blue or black while you are turkey hunting since this can be misconceived for a turkey by other hunters. Also, when moving to and from the truck with a decoy it is smart to put an orange vest around the decoy and yourself, so hunters don’t think your decoy is a real turkey. Be smart while hunting and make sure that if you are going to take a shot, you are sure that it is a turkey. Get out there and chase those spring gobbler and hopefully, these tips lead to some success.