How To Hunt Turkey
Knowing how to hunt turkey is a great way to improve your overall skill as a hunter. Turkeys are known for their amazing, telescopic eyesight that covers 180 degrees. This makes them extremely challenging to bag because they easily pick up the hunter’s slightest movement or gaps in camouflage. They also have great hearing, which is why most turkey hunting strategies involve stealth and waiting. Turkey hunting season is generally held twice a year. In most regions, hunting in spring is allowed for only a very short period, while in the autumn you can hunt every day.
To hunt for turkeys, you will need:
- A license, permit and turkey tags
- A shotgun
- Turkey loads
- Turkey choke
- Turkey decoys, two hens and one tom
- Turkey calls
- Camouflage clothing
- A hunting blind (illegal in some states)
- Locating turkeys. Turkeys roost in trees, so a common hunting technique is to go out in the forest the evening before you hunt. When you hear them flapping up a tree to roost or gobbling to each other, you have found your spot. If you are too late to catch them on their way to roost, you can also use an owl call. Turkeys will gobble back at an owl call, making this a popular way of locating where they roost. After you have found your spot, make a mental note of the surroundings so you can find it again.
- Get set up. You want to get back to your spot before daybreak to set up. You want to be about 100 yards from the roost. Put the decoys about 30 feet away from where you will wait. Try to put them near brush to simulate natural behavior. Only strutting toms walk in the open. If your state allows you to use a blind, set it up. If not, hunker down in the bushes or against a tree. Make sure your camouflage covers everything, including the gun barrel.
- Practice your calls. Turkey calls come in two different styles. There are friction calls that you manipulate with your hands and air calls you blow or inhale to use. Whichever one you use, make sure to keep your hands camouflaged when using. Calling for turkeys is an art that is learned over time. The best way to learn is by listening and practicing. When calling a turkey, less is more. Let them investigate on their own. When the turkeys awake, they will gobble before coming down. Use your calls. The goal is to get them to focus on the decoys with a minimal amount of turkey calls. If they are suspicious they will scour the land with their incredible eyesight and probably notice you.
- Take the shot. When choosing turkey ammo you want loads that keep a tight pattern for at least 40 yards. This is why you need a turkey choke. You really want a clean shot, so exercise patience and wait for the best shot. Aim for the head or neck for a clean kill. If you clip the bird, you will have to track it down. Dispatch a wounded turkey by placing your boot heel firmly on the neck until all movement subsides.
- Wear orange gloves and a hat when walking to identify yourself to other hunters. If you spot another hunter, it is a good idea to loudly identify yourself by calling out "Hello." Never use a turkey call or try to motion to the other hunter.