Turkey hunting isn’t just an outdoor activity, to some, it’s a way of life. Turkey hunting, unlike other wild hunting activities, is usually interactive. Turkey hunters are usually in a better mood to hunt these gobblers because they tend to respond well to turkey calls.
Asides the meat a successful turkey hunting session produces, there’s the feeling of accomplishment most hunters get from a successful hunt.
Expert turkey hunters already have an idea of what to expect and the best practices which are guaranteed to bring in more game, but for beginners, however, there’s quite a lot to cover.
Let’s look at some turkey hunting tips for beginners which should help you land your first successful turkey takedown.
Before we proceed, let’s talk about the hunting season and what you should know.
Turkey hunting season falls mostly spring, and these gobblers take their sweet time to do routine stuff like leave droppings around after a field day, mate if there’s a horny hen turkey around waiting for a tom or just scratch the earth to find whatever is hidden underneath the surface.
Bagging a gobbler requires stealth, precision, and good strategy. A few lucky hunters have been known to tag Turkey by sheer luck of being in the right place and at the precise and right time.
This, however, doesn’t work for all hunters, and vast majorities do need to put in a ton of work to have turkey meat available.
Of course, you don’t just rush into turkey territory guns blazing and expect to tag any gobbler. There is some minute yet serious steps that need to be taken.
For one, you should be watchful for any sign of turkey around – search for their scratches, their droppings and listen for their hearty gobbling. If you come in contact with any of these or hear their gobbling, you are in luck. That’s your starting point for a successful turkey hunt.
Bear in mind that Turkey have superb eye sight, so you might want to keep away from their line of view if you want to go home a champion.
Are you a beginner hunter? Here are some very crucial tips to bear in mind before hunting turkey.
Turkey hunting tips for beginners
Go with a hunting partner: As a newbie in turkey hunting, you should probably ask around about how the hunt is carried out in your area and if anyone would like to show you the ropes.
Some experienced hunters won’t pass the chance to put you through with hunting and even assist you to tag a gobbler by going with you to the hunting ground and calling the turkeys if you are not very familiar with turkey calling.
This should get the turkey within range for a perfect tag. Just be sure to ask around, and in a friendly tone, you’ll be sure to get a hunting partner.
Beginners should be up early: As a beginner hunter, you should be on your way to your hunting spot very early in the morning. Remember when we said that Turkey has very sharp eyes?
Yes, they do, and if they happen to spot you sneaking to a position, you can call your hunting plans a day. Most tagged turkeys are gotten in the early hunting hours, so you’d like to be on the move way before the gobblers start getting ready for activity filled day.
The act of concealment: Like all hunting activities, you need to be well concealed when hunting turkeys.
Have your face, and hand covered with face masks and a good glove (avoid wearing gloves that would discomfort you, or let your guns feel slippery while planning to take a shot).
Camouflages are also necessary attire when hunting turkeys. Try to blend with the environment and try not to spook the gobblers. If you are not bothered about movement restriction, you can hunt out of blinds else; you’d be better stationed against a tree with a seat of course and a camouflaged turkey vest.
Use decoys: As a beginner, the decoy can skyrocket your chances of tagging a gobbler. Although you can tag a turkey without decoys beginners, have more chances of getting a turkey with a decoy.
For instance, a hen decoy would be an effective decoy to use for early season hunting. You can bring a hen and a jack decoy on your first early season hunts and arouses jealousy in a randy tom thus getting it within kill range.
As the season progresses, you decide on what decoys to use for an effective hunt, decoys of a hen turkey feeding is a great choice to consider and would probably get you a gobbler to tag.
Turkey Calls: Turkey calls are an important part of hunting turkeys. There are several ways to call Turkey including the use of various recorded turkey calls, and box calls. Box calls are the best for new gobblers hunters however as they are easier to use compared to other methods.
They also produce good ‘turkey music’ which the birds find appealing and thus react to.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when calling Turkey.
Although you can buy an instrument and head into the field to hunt turkey, there are great ways to call Turkey efficiently. Let’s take a look at how to call Turkey efficiently.
i. Practice your turkey calling before going into the field
ii. Use a variety of turkey calls on each hunting expedition, don’t let the gobblers get used to a particular sound, else no tag for you. As a beginner, if you are going hunting with an old timer, have him use something different from what he has been using while hunting.
iii. Try not to overcall else you’d spook the birds. A call every 10 – 20 minutes is best and is sure to provide results.
iv. Call moderately - don’t yell especially when you have results.
v. Learn to stop as at when due. Don’t call even when you have sighted a bird except it looks to be leaving.
Selecting the kill: Once you are in position and you have a flock of turkeys approach you, it’s that time when you decide on which turkey(s) to tag. There are a few things you should note, however.
As a beginner, try to steer clear of hens of Turkey due to their small frame they’ll be difficult to tag. You’ll know a hen by its size and their dull plumage. You can go for the larger males which are larger with bright colored (red) heads with touches of blue and white.
The male turkeys also have distinguishing beards. The Jake turkeys which are the juvenile turkeys are larger than the hens and have shorter beards when compared with the matured males.
As a beginner, don’t feel pro like and go for the largest gobbler, you can take on any gobbler that’s within shot range and which you feel you can make a good shot at, after all, all gobblers are good gobblers and taste the same.
Selecting your weapons: Every turkey hunter has his/her desired ammunition for tagging wild gobblers. Although the standard gun for hunting gobblers is the 12 gauge shotguns.
Several persons especially women and youths have made the 20 gauge shotgun their favorite hunting gun.
Selecting the right gun can be a bit tricky. Rifle hunting is prohibited in a few states, but if you live somewhere that permits it, then you can make use of the .243 and .223 rifles for your turkey hunts.
They are deadly precise and are the standard rifle for hunting turkey. You can make use of scopes if you please, it’s not mandatory but a few people like the idea as it offers a more vivid look, but it restricts sight so consider what you desire.
Taking the shot: Even as a beginner, you should already have had plenty of time to practice shooting because your shot accuracy must be exact and precise.
Also, head shots are advised for shotgun hunters due to the several pellets which would be splattered in the innards of the turkey. Don’t pound the trigger until the head pops and you are sure you won’t miss the shot.
A good range for shotgun hunters (beginners and experts alike) is 45 yards (maximum). Staying too far would only make you miss the shot, but if you can come closer without being seen, then there’s no limit (minimum).
The final phase: If you have taken a shot within good shooting range, the turkey would most likely fall, however, if the shot requires follow-up, then another quick shot should do the trick.
Just remember that the turkey shouldn’t be left to stagger out of sight. If you have successfully brought down the turkey, you are now tasked with tagging him before having him moved.
If you would be taking pictures of your kill, best to do it then than when the flat out gobbler is lying in the trunk of your car.