I have been looking forward to writing this article about turkey hunting for quite some time. Growing up in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania and in the Ozark Mountain in Missouri, deer hunting is a bit of a given. Once I got to be about 12, it was expected that me, my friends, and every man in the area climb a tree to hunt for deer. However, turkey hunting is quite different.
Turkey Hunting Strategy In The Spring
A much smaller percentage of hunters go after turkeys each year, and the success rate seems to be much lower. You also will not come home with nearly as much meat killing a turkey verses a deer. However, there are a few major benefits to turkey hunting. One is that hunting in April is much more pleasant than hunting in November. While I feel that bagging a deer is a reward for enduring such horrid weather, I feel like the weather itself is the reward during turkey season. Even if I do not get a bird, I still feel like I came out on top.
Another advantage of my style of turkey hunting is that it is mobile. I am a very active person and have a hard time sitting in one spot for long periods of time. With turkey hunting, I get the chance to set up in one spot and then pack up and move to another area if I feel there is a better opportunity.
The really magical part of turkey hunting is the sensory aspect of the process. Imagine that the sun is rising over a ridge and you can smell the forest coming alive. In the distance you hear a turkey gobble, and it instantly gets your heart pumping. You call back to the bird, and it responds. Now you know it is headed your way. The bird silently pops over a hill and approaches your decoy. He puffs out his chest and fans out his tail feathers making him double in size. It is a very exciting experience.
Spring turkey hunting is much more strategic than most hunting. Here are some tips that can help you be more successful:
- Start by scouting your area before the season opens. Go out at dusk with a crow or owl call and try to get a turkey to respond. Listen for turkeys flying up to their roost tree. They have huge wings and will make plenty of noise. If you can find a roost tree, plan to set up around 100 yards from that tree on opening morning. You do not want to be directly under the tree, but you want to have them close by when they fly down in the morning.
- Be ready with your turkey call. This is the unique part of turkey hunting. With a good call, turkeys will respond and tell you where they are located. They will also come to your location if the circumstances are right. If you have the time to perfect a mouth call, it will keep your hands free. If you do not, then a box call or a slate call are fine. When you call and get a response, wait a good 15 minutes before you call again. You want to leave the bird curious. If you keep calling you make the gobbler think that you are coming to them.
- Always try to set up your spot uphill from the bird. Turkeys are fine coming up a steep ridge to find a hen, but they do not like to move downhill for some reason.
- Stay completely still. Turkeys have incredible eyesight. In addition, their eyes are on the sides of their head so they can see in almost every direction. When you see a bird, do not move under any circumstances. Also, make sure you have good camouflage covering every inch of your body.
- If you have been sitting in one spot for a while and are getting no action, do not be afraid to pack up and move. I normally give it about 90 minutes of daylight before I get ready to move. Also, if I hear a bird but I think it is a bit too far to call it in I will quietly move closer.
- Another way to entice a bird in is to give it the impression you are mobile. Turkeys have excellent hearing and can tell if you are calling from the same spot. If you call in one spot and then call from 20 yards away from that spot, you sound more realistic to the gobbler.
- If you see hens only, do not be discouraged. Often the females will help call in the males as females tend to group up.
I am greatly looking forward to turkey season this year, despite the fact that I do not always come home with a bird. I love turkey hunting so much that I bought my father and I matching turkey guns for his retirement present. This type of hunting is not about meat. While I love the taste of a roasted wild turkey, the experience is second to none. So get out your lightweight camo, polish your 12 gauge, and go bag that bird!
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