The dawn has come and gone for many a spring hunt. I have walked out of the woods with a bird slung over my shoulder on many of them, but on many more I have not. However, all have been successful in their own way. The one thing that all of these hunts had in common is the fact that some new bit of information was gained each time I set foot in the woods. If you’re not observant by nature, you are going to struggle to become a proficient turkey hunter.
The following is a collection of Hunting Tips and insight gained from a myriad of hunts and countless hours spent afield.
TURKEY HUNTING TIPS LEARNED THE HARD WAY!
1. Take your first best shot!
When a turkey comes within your effective range and offers a shot….take it! A turkey has a way of slipping away without offering a shot. He is super quick and his head is a very small, always moving target. The shot that provides the best odds of a clean kill is when the bird is between 20 and 30 yards.
2. Always try to get as close to a roosted gobbler as the conditions will allow!
The closer you are to him when he comes off the limb the better your odds of him being in range when he touched down. Just be careful not to get so close that he over flies you.
3. Roost a gobbler the evening before the hunt!
Roosting makes for a lot of work and a little less sleep but pays big dividends. The importance of roosting can’t be over stated. Often times you only have about 20-30 minutes from the time a bird starts gobbling until he pitches down. That is not a lot of time to sneak to the bird and get set up. The closer you can be to him when he makes his first gobble the better. There is only two ways to do that, roosting and dumb luck!
4. Two close can be worse than too far!
I believe more turkeys are missed due to letting them get to close than shots that are taken from to far. A turkey is seldom standing still. If you let him get inside of 15 yards your odds of taking him grow less with every step. Remember, the closer the target the smaller your shot cone diameter will be. Also, if he picks you off his likely reaction is to instantly break into a full out run. This sets up a shot that most hunters will miss.
5. Calling to a Gobbler on the Roost!
If you are set up close to a gobbler that is still on the roost, one of the worst things you can do is start calling to him before he pitches down. This creates a number of problems that can cost you the bird. I love to hear a bird get fired up but a lot of gobbling from the roost attracts unwanted attention from other hunters and most likely he will gobble up a hen and pitch to her…..game over. Remember, It is un-natural for a turkey to keep calling over and over from one position…..most likely the bird will figure out that something is not right here. The most common result from calling to a roosted gobbler is that he’ll gobble like hell, fly down and walk away gobbling. One exception to this is If you are a long ways from the roost.
6. How Early can you use a locator Call?
I have never seen or heard this discussed before but you would probably be surprised at how often you can get a gobbler to sound off in the pitch dark in the morning, well before the sky even begins to crack light! You will likely only get one gobble from him so be ready to course him. I use an Owl call for this and gobbling in the dark at my owl has cost a number of birds their life. Most birds will wait for a little light before gobbling. That gives you precious little time to get to him and move in close before it is too light on the ground. A word of caution though……Don’t over do it with the calling in the dark….you can desensitize him to the call. If he does not shock gobble at 1-2 owl calls, wait for 5-10 minutes before calling again. I have gotten birds to gobble as much as a half hour before the sky starts to crack…..that can be a big advantage!