TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL TURKEY HUNTING
1) How to keep your good spots! Don’t put those elk, deer, turkey or any kind of sticker on the rear window of your truck that makes you stand out as a hunter. When I’m looking at new country and see a truck with hunting stickers I make a note and may stop back by when nobody is around. Spring is a great time of the year and lots of people are out looking for mushrooms or just enjoying public lands, stay off the radar.
2) Don’t think you need a decoy in all situations. Decoys are a great for distracting a gobbler on his way to that hen but can cost you if time is an issue. If you happen to strike a gobbler using a yelp as a locator you may not have the time to deploy a decoy, sit down and don’t move.
3) Dress warm! Take the time if you have it to put on some extra clothes when setting up on a bird. You never know how long it will take for him to show, could be a couple of hours. I was told by a very experienced turkey hunter that the coldest he’s ever been was turkey hunting in Florida. Rain gear can serve a double purpose as a great last layer.
4) Use your old aluminum arrows as decoy stakes. Just put an insert in both ends and file the tip down on a couple of field points and there you have it. The tips on new points are really sharp and a bit on the dangerous side. I usually have two short pieces and fashion some sort of quick connect system. I haven’t had a lot of luck with carbon shafts but they should work.
5) Tie as much of your stuff to your vest as you can. I put a bunch of grommets in the old vest I use and tie my locator calls, binoculars, diaphragm holder and whatever else I can to it. In my hunting career I scattered a fair amount of gear across the forest. When setting up sometimes I’ll have my calls out within easy reach and in my sleep deprives state I have a tendency to leave
6) Put sights on your shotgun. If you’re using your bird gun for turkeys then some sort of sight is a necessity. Don’t think your shotgun shoots straight, most don’t! You’re shooting the shotgun like a rifle not a scattergun so basic rifle shooting techniques apply. Sights help you focus and keep your head down on the stock. I use a clamp on open sight, the Truglo Magnum Gobble
Dots, adjustable for windage and elevation, https://www.truglo.com/pc_combined_results.asp?
pc_id=F41C40D155E44609874F4225CB2A7EC2 . I have a mark on the rib where they go so all I have to do is clamp them on each spring.
7) Use a rafting/kayaking mesh gear bag for a decoy bag. Get one big enough to hold a couple of decoys and some extra clothing. Attach some sort of shoulder strap and your bag is complete. It’s nice to have that extra room for clothing when your vest just can’t hold enough.
8) Carry a ground blind attached to your decoy bag. Having a simple ground blind like the Primos Up-N-Down Stakeout can be a great tool, http://www.primos.com/products/ground-blinds/up-
n-down-stakeout-blind/ . They’re light to carry, easy to set up and provide great cover. If you’re hunting the edge of a field or set up in the open woods they may provide that extra cover that allows you to move without being seen.
9) Don’t cheap out on shotshells, buy the best turkey loads available! My favorite is the Hevi-Shot
Magnum Blend in 3 ½ inch magnums, http://www.hevishot.com/. They cost about $4.00 a shell and are worth every penny. If you’re lucky and get to travel around a bit you may get to shoot a box but the average guy might shoot 2 or 3 a year.
10) Make sure your turkey choke is the correct restriction for the type of shot you’re using. Shot such as Hevi-Shot is denser than lead may not work well in an extra full choke designed for lead shot. Buy a custom choke from one of the manufactures such as Trulock. Give them a call and they will help you match a choke to your application and guarantee it, http://
11) It’s better to be a great hunter and an OK caller than a great caller and a poor hunter. Remember the techniques from your deer and elk hunting and apply them when chasing those gobblers. Use the terrain and vegetation for cover when moving on birds just like you would on other big game. Turkeys have great hearing and eyesight so anything you can get behind take
12) Hen yelps will work on most of the birds you’re after. It’s fun to be able to produce lots of different turkey sounds, sometimes they work. Master the yelp first then advance to other sounds. Purchase a turkey calling CD from Lovett Williams, http://www.lovettwilliams.com/ .
Check out his web site, you can’t go wrong with this guy.
13) Just like calling in bull elk turkeys will come a great distance to the exact spot where the call is coming from. Be prepared, if a turkey is on its way it will show up to the very spot where you called from. That’s when a decoy comes into play taking the attention away from the caller.
14) Always give a turkey more time than you think to come in. You may think he’s left the country but that’s not always the case.
15) If he’s a mover stay with him without being seen and you may just get close enough to make him curious. I was told in my first year of turkey hunting to never walk away from a gobbling tom. That works well here in the west on public lands but it’s sometimes hard to do on private
16) The closer you need to be to the roost tree the earlier you have to be there. That means sometimes an hour to an hour and a half before they wake up, that’s wake up not sun up! If you have to be in that close it may be better not to call and just let them fly down. If you call they’ll be looking and they don’t like to fly down when something isn’t right.
Jim Ciardelli is a First Lite Pro Staffer out of Emmett, Idaho who spends more days hunting thunder chicken than most of us spend in the office.