Turkey hunting is no ordinary walk in the park, although it can be stimulating and rewarding. If you are a first-timer, it’s best to know what makes turkey gobble before you set out. Our informative guide will help get your adrenaline pumping as we outline each phase of your hunt.
Before your turkey graces the table at Thanksgiving, it’s essential to understand their habits, nesting, calls, feeding patterns, and mating rituals. Adequate preparation will help you get the right gear, practice your shots, and play a big part in your success story. Let’s show you how.
Know your turkeys
Turkeys present a sumptuous fare at any meal, but how much do you know about them? Understanding their differences can run a long way in helping you enjoy a successful hunt.
Some varieties include Gould’s, Eastern, Osceola or Florida, Ocellated, Merriam, and the Rio Grande. They also vary in size, color, weight, and calls.
Males and females also have unique marks that help you identify them. For example, males or toms keep a lot of noise to attract potential mates. They are generally more muscular than females, and the head and necks are red and bumpy, with splashes of blue.
Females or hens appear more graceful with smaller heads. The males also develop long beards on the lower part of their breast and grow thin spurs to the rear of the legs.
The clincher for identifying the male is his lordly strut and fanfare of beautiful feathers when modeling for his bride.
Speak their language
During the spring and fall, tom turkeys come out in their droves to court their hens. In many states, spring is one of the best times to go turkey hunting. It’s the time when you’ll hear the variety of calls as they communicate.
Their calls include gobbles, clucks, yelps, cackles, owl hoots, fly-downs, fly ups, tree calls, putts, purrs, crow calls, and kee runs. Each sound varies in length, pitch, and long and short notes. Learning their calls will help you draw them out during hunting.
Know what they eat
Turkeys like to feast on nuts, fruits, insects, herbs, and grasses like clover, chufa, chicory, and winter wheat. Setting up food plots is a great way to attract their attention before hunting.
Licensing rules will vary from place to place. Make sure you apply early and get familiar with the rules and regulations for your area.
Learn as much as possible you can before the hunt. Read up and watch films on turkey habits and customs, where they like to nest, roost, and search for food.
Stake yourself out in your target area at least two weeks before the hunt. Study turkey movements, take photos, line up possible distances, and get familiar with the general layout.
Getting the necessary turkey hunting supplies ahead of the trip is critical. Prepare as much as you can, especially if you are a beginner.
Your gear must include clothing that conceals your presence and movement. Vests, pants, socks, face goggles, earplugs, gloves, ankle and leg gaiters, hands and neckties, and waterproof boots are essential.
Your toolkit will have a variety of tools. Take a flashlight, dressing knife, and raingear. Additionally, have a comfortable seat or stool, camera, first-aid kit, repellent, compass, an insulated cooler, choke tubes, and box calls.
Select guns, bows, and arrows depending on how you plan to catch the turkey.
A set of muzzle loaders, pellets, bowheads, shells arrows, and other accessories will be helpful.
Preliminary runs in each phase of the turkey hunting process help build your confidence and keep you in a state of readiness. Here’s how to get ready:
Practicing a few of the turkey calls is a great way to help draw them out. Listen to how they call and try to imitate them when outdoors. Mix and match some yelps, clucks, wing bones, and box calls beforehand.
Perfect your shots
Whether you use a bow or shotgun, practice helps keep your shots down pat. Shooting from different distances can help you spot birds at varying ranges. It’s useful not to overdraw your string when using the bow.
Try to carve out a workable draw weight before the actual hunt to help reduce pressure or injury. Some experts also suggest tweaking the strength to get the level of force that’s comfortable for you.
Loading: Turkey loads will vary depending on the type of shotgun you select. Gauges range between 3 and 31/2-inch shells, and 10 and 20 gauge depending on your experience and preference. Lead shots sizes come in 4, 5, and 6.
Select the combinations that will provide the best chances of accuracy when hitting your targets. Frequent practice will help decide which pattern is more suitable for your shooting style.
Setting up is another critical area that can make or break your hunt. Set up close to mature trees within a few yards of your targets. Place your blind away from your line of vision to the left or right of your trigger hand.
Turkeys have a sharp sense of sight and will quickly detect the slightest movement. Practice moving as little as possible to avoid spooking them.
Safety is one of the first concerns to bear in mind before, during, and after the hunt. Do not place the gun nozzle in the path of other individuals. Studies also suggest you operate as if your gun is fully loaded, even if it isn’t.
Turkey hunting is an exhilarating experience, whether you are a beginner or professional. Turkeys are very resilient birds, with a keen sense of sight. Knowing as much as you can about their lifestyle will help you prepare the best possible plan to catch them.
Each phase in the process requires observation, practice, obtaining the necessary permits, and assembling your gear.
Getting out into the area, studying their movements and habits, and patiently waiting them out will all reap rich dividends. Assemble your gear, fill up your kits, have a safety plan, and go out and hit your target!