Learning how to Turkey hunt can seem like a daunting task to someone who doesn’t know the difference in between a gobble and a yelp. Here are some simple tips to point someone new to this amazing sport in the right direction.
Gear: There is a multitude of options when it comes to taking to the turkey woods. Here is what I would consider the bare minimum when heading out after thunder chickens.
Calls: If you don’t own anything yet, start with a box call. They are by far the simplest turkey calls to pick up and use. Myself,and I’m sure %90 of other turkey hunters started out this way. Also,grab a hoot owl call while you’re at the store. These are fairly cheap,but can have a huge impact on your hunting. When trying to locate birds before daylight,a good snort through a barred owl call will generally rouse even the oldest birds. Check out THIS POST for some basic calling tips.
Clothing: A turkeys eyesight is uncanny. I’ve had birds spot me blinking from 75 yards away. For this reason,dress in full,head to toe camouflage,including gloves and face mask. Generally a pattern with some green to it,as vegetation is beginning to come in during the early spring months. Both Kevin and I wear Mossy Oak patterns,and haven’t been let down by them yet, but to be honest, if all you have is a bunch of army pattern camo,don’t let that stop you from hitting the woods.
Footwear: When you are turkey hunting,you will be walking a lot. Like, A LOT a lot. You need to be comfortable in order to put in the extra miles on foot. A lot of different style boots work,but I prefer the neoprene outer style rubber boots,with a comfort in sole inside. These seem to keep my feet dry while traipsing through soaking wet fields and creeks,while still remaining fairly light and comfortable. A good set of waterproofed leather boots will work well also. A rule of thumb is as long as they are comfortable,light,and keep you dry, they’ll do.
Gun: Well,I guess it wouldn’t make much sense if we spent all this time getting our clothes,shoes,and calls together without grabbing a gun now would it? Guns vary vastly on what works for turkeys,but here are some guidelines. The most common gun you’ll see in the woods is a short-barreled 12 gauge,loaded with 3 1/2″ turkey loads. Most any “Turkey” branded gun you see on the shelf will be some variation of this style. Here is where I disagree with gun makers. I carry a Mossberg 835, a very common model in the turkey woods,but mine has a 28″ barrel on it,rather than a 26″ you see on most turkey guns, as well as an extra inch of choke tube. My reason is this: Sometimes, a Tom isn’t gonna come in to 20 yards for a perfect shot. I’ve had several hang up out at 60-70 yards, but offer me a clear, unobscured shot. The farthest bird I’ve taken with this type gun was at 67 yards. Try making that shot with a short gun. I gladly give up 3-4″ of portability for an extra 15 yards of range.
Many a old-timer went into the woods with these items,or oftentimes less,and came out with a bird over their shoulder. It just goes to show with some good woodsmanship and a little want to, anybody can become a great turkey hunter, no matter the budget. Good luck,and good huntin’!
After the thrill of turkey season has ended in late spring,it’s easy to start getting the hunting blues, realizing you have to wait until fall for the next major hunting season to start. Fear not. In the lull between turkey and deer,there lies a little bird that challenges even the most seasoned hunter. Doves. Here are some tips to help maximize your time in the field getting ready for these little “bottle rockets with feathers”.
Planting: Unless you’re one of the lucky few who heads down to Argentina or Mexico for a dove shoot every year, chances are either you or someone you know has to put in ALOT of work to attract doves to that field you’ll be hunting. Although in Tennessee legal shooting doesn’t start until noon on September the 1st,dove season really begins in April/May with the planting of crops. Although hunting around a field that has already been planted in corn by a farmer is a great way to hunt doves, for most of us we have to do it the hard way. Planting a good crop of wheat, sunflower, and/or corn in the spring ups your chances of pulling in and KEEPING birds in your area. A common method is to plant your crop in a way where it can be strip mowed a little at a time, to insure seeds are on the ground the entire month before season starts. Planting this way also makes sure that some of the crop can be left standing for both cover during your hunt,as well as food/cover for other wildlife throughout the winter.
Stand sites: A well placed dove stand can be the difference between going home empty handed and tagging out. If you’re putting on a hunt for you and your buddy’s to enjoy, putting in the extra time to set up some stand sites can really help you out on the day of your shoot. Try and get out in the field during the hours that you’ll be hunting it and watch the bird movement. If doves are entering the field frequently in one corner, but never seem to come near another, make sure your stand placement’s gives everyone a fair shot at birds as they enter and/or exit the field. Of course not every stand is made equal, and some will always be better than others, but knowing what the birds are doing before that hunt starts helps you AND your other hunters enjoy it that much more.
Safety: This is something that should constantly be in the forefront of your mind when your prepping for a dove hunt: Is this safe? From making sure that the stands are far enough apart, to keeping brush down in those areas to minimize snakes and ticks, always consider how what you are doing will affect the safety of your hunt.
Hopefully you come away from your next dive hunt with a full bag,a sore shoulder,and alot of great memories. Good huntin’!
Using decoy’s should be something that is pretty cut and dry: Put the decoys out in front of you,watch the tom’s come pouring in. unfortunately,like many things involved with turkey hunting,it’s just not that simple. Here are a few tips to help maximize your next decoy setup.
Types OF Decoy’s: Turkey decoys come in a HUGE array of styles,colors,and looks. Here are a few of the variations,and what I ALWAYS have in my turkey vest:
Hen Decoys: These include – Feeding hen,Nesting/Breeding hen,Alert hen.
Jake Decoys: These include – Alert jake,Feeding jake, and Half-strut jake
Tom Decoys: These include – Alert tom,feeding tom,half strut tom,and full strut tom
As far as what to carry,that’s really up to you,and what types of situations you think you may get yourself into. I ALWAYS carry one hen decoy (usually two) and one jake decoy. Turkey’s are social animals,and generally the larger flock they see,the better.
Placement: There are a lot of different situations you’ll find yourself in while turkey hunting,and there are as many different options for a good decoy spread. Here are a few examples.
In this example,the tom has been gobbling from the roost. Setting the decoys out in a spread like the one above allows you to be out of the visual mix. When that tom comes in,you want his complete attention to be on the decoys. If you are directly behind the decoys,it leaves very little room for error on your part as far as movement is concerned. It is best to place them either to the left or right of you,or setup adjacent to your setup,to keep his eyes occupied while you get settled in. I usually like to set up a feeding hen facing in my general direction. This gives a tom confidence that the direction she is facing is safe,and that he needn’t worry that area.
The above example represents what some call a “Cold calling” session,in which you havent heard any gobblers,but have found a good spot where you think they could be headed. The last thing you want to do in this setup is surprise a tom rounding a corner,so make sure your decoys are setup in a natural way i.e. feeding or nesting. I would stay away from full strut decoys in this situation.
Always consider safety when setting up your decoys,especially if using jake or tom decoys. Never setup your decoys in between you and a road highly trafficked by hunters. This is especially true on public land,where hunter numbers are high.
Using decoys when turkey hunting can add even more excitement to an already heart pounding sport. I hope these tip’s will come in handy this coming spring when your out chasing that big ol’ longbeard. Good huntin’!