Turkey Hunting Tips For Beginners
It is just about that time of year to start getting ready to go turkey hunting. Experienced turkey hunters understand what needs to be done to bag the big Tom, but for those just getting into the turkey hunting gig, there are a few important tips and tricks you should know before you set out on your hunting adventure.
Turkey hunting, similar to pheasant hunting, can be a highly exciting and rewarding experience if it is done right. After all, despite the tall tales surrounding turkeys and their dubious intelligence, these big birds have proven that they are far wilier than they first appear, and are renown for giving even the most experienced hunters a run for their money.
Practice PatienceAll forms of hunting require a great deal of patience, as you never really know when your quarry will come into that perfect range. Since turkey hunting is no exception, it is best that you get it into your head now that the chances of bagging a bird quickly during a hunting excursion is unlikely. Most often, you will find yourself quietly waiting for the perfect opportunity to arise: when that turkey finally struts into your area without noticing your presence.
Half the fun of hunting is the anticipation of the hunt itself, and any good hunter will let tell you to be patient and to stay calm if you want to be successful.
Become an Early RiserIf you are not a morning person, it is time to start conditioning yourself to be one, because the majority of successful turkey hunts take place in the wee hours of the morning. For prime positioning, you will want to be in your chosen hunting spot before sunrise to prevent wary birds from easily spotting you.
You can work on training your body to rise early in the weeks leading up to your turkey hunting trip so that when you arrive at the site, your body and your mind are ready to get into the hunt. What better way to wake yourself up early than to use a great hunting watch to wake yourself up.
Understand Your QuarryBefore you figure out where you are going to go hunting, it is crucial that you understand where to even find turkeys that can be hunted. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question, as turkeys are highly variable in their living conditions and environments. But there are a few key factors that you can keep an eye out for:
- Turkeys roost at night, so they require larger trees
- Turkeys will almost always roost near available water sources
- The turkey's diet can be varied depending on the season: during the spring, they are drawn to fresh buds, grasses, and other low-lying plant material; in summer, they tend to add more insects and berries to their diet; and in the winter and autumn, leftover fruits, nuts, and grains are the go-to food.
The Call of the TurkeyTurkey calls are very distinct, and if you are not familiar with performing these calls or using a turkey call tool, then it would behoove you to do some research on this point. There are plenty of useful video tutorials online that you can refer to for this purpose.
Mastering a successful turkey call can be the difference between a successful hunt and getting skunked. It is not the most important skill to have when it comes to turkey hunting, but it is definitely a highly useful one.
Choosing Your CamouflageUnlike other animals, turkeys do not have a great sense of smell, which means slathering yourself in turkey urine or the like is not necessary. However, these crafty birds do have excellent eyesight, and this is why it is extremely important that you pick the right camouflage for your hunting trip.
For best results, your entire body should be covered in some form of camouflaged clothing or other concealing materials. This includes your face and hands. Camouflage print masks can work, or you can consider going full Rambo with some military grade face paint. Whatever you decide, make sure that you are comfortable enough for the wait. When choosing gloves, make sure that you have a pair with a good grip in addition to ample camouflage covering so that you do not have to worry about your gun slipping from your hands.
It is important to note that because turkeys are adepts at seeing color, this means that the usual "safety orange" associated with hunting is usually not worn to decreases your chances of scaring off the birds. Thus, it is much easier to mistake a fellow hunter moving in the underbrush for a turkey. It is important to always practice careful hunting and to always make sure that you know what you are shooting at before you pull the trigger. So again, be patient.
Using DecoysA high quality turkey decoy can be paired with a good turkey call to lure in an unsuspecting Tom who might think he has just found a willing mate. Or, conversely, if you use a Tom decoy, you might trigger a live Tom's jealousy radar and lure him in for the kill.
Decoys can drastically improve your chances of luring a turkey into your hunting area and bagging a kill. The best decoys involve either live or synthetic feathers that you can add to make the plastic bird seem more realistic.
Choosing the Right EquipmentWhether you favor the bow or the gun or something in between, it is important to not only make sure that you have chosen the best possible hunting tool, but that you are confident using it. Before the hunting season begins, make sure you do some target practice to get the feel for your weapon, especially if it is a new one.
For guns, a 12 gauge shotgun is the standard fare, though a 20 gauge would also work if you are looking for something with less of a kick. A quality turkey choke will also be necessary to ensure that your payload hits the target with the utmost accuracy. For ammo, there are plenty of "turkey hunter" specific brands, but something that measures between #4 and #6 generally works best.
Bows will make turkey hunting a bit more of a challenge, but it is not without its benefits. When choosing a bow, make sure you look for a compound hunting bow that is quiet and has a high draw strength (50 to 70 pounds at least). Your arrows should be fitted with quality broadhead tips that can quickly and easily take down your quarry.
Taking the ShotWhere you shoot a turkey is just as important as shooting it at all, especially if you are using a shotgun as your hunting weapon of choice. Experienced turkey hunters will always go for head shots, so that you do not have to spend time picking buckshot out of your turkey's meat. This is where getting to know your weapon and your skill level comes in: with practice, you will have a better idea of how close you will need to be to ensure an accurate shot.
While hunting, if you have your sights on a turkey but it is too far away and movement will most likely compromise your position, then it is time to practice patience once more. Let the bird do the moving; let it come to you. If you have a decoy set up, the bird's approach is far more likely and/or you can use your practiced turkey call to lure the big guy closer for the kill.
Enjoy!With a successful hunt comes that feeling of bursting pride, and it is well earned. So long as you have practiced the proper hunting safety measures and have bagged your Tom with skill, then you can consider yourself a top-notch turkey hunter. All that is left now is to pose with your catch, bag it up, truck it home, and get to prepping that bad boy for a big feast.
Once you have your turkey and you are ready to leave the hunting area, you should pull out some orange to throw on so that other hunters do not mistake your or your turkey for a possible target. A hat or some gloves can be easily concealed in a pocket and pulled on when the hunting is done.
Getting into turkey hunting can be quite the exhilarating experience, and once you bag that first big bird, it is likely that you will be itching to go back for more. Educate yourself on what you will need to go hunting, make sure that the state you are in is equipped with hunting tags, and that you are hunting within the right season. Most states have an over abundance of birds that can be hunted, but always practice proper hunting etiquette and follow state laws to ensure your best hunting season.