Turkey hunting can be a highly rewarding sport, but if you are not a seasoned professional, you can easily find yourself going home empty-handed more often than not. To make your next turkey hunting trip enjoyable and fruitful, follow these five tips:
Scout Before the Season Starts
You don’t have to wait until the season starts to get in on the fun! As soon as you get that turkey hunting ‘itch,’ head outdoors and begin looking for the flock. Jot down where the food sources are, where you can see visible tracks and scratchings, and even set up some game cameras to get an idea of the flock’s feeding and traffic patterns so you have a solid idea of where to go on opening day.
Find the Roost
Once you’ve found the general area where you want to hunt, go out the night before your hunt and locate the roost. Be as quiet as possible as to not spook the birds and head to the area where you believe the flock is roosting. Get within earshot and listen for flapping wings to see if the turkeys are nearby. Once you find the birds, mark down the location, and you can head to that exact spot early the next morning.
Call the Turkeys
As experienced hunters know, the most important thing to do when turkey hunting is calling the turkeys themselves. The goal of turkey calling is to make a tom believe there is a hen lying in wait nearby, then the tom will come investigate. You can use a variety of different tools to create the call, such as a box call, a turkey pot call, a push-and-pull turkey call, or a diaphragm call. The first three are the easiest for beginners, while the diaphragm call is a little more difficult to master.
Use Turkey Hunting Decoys
To further increase your chances of attracting a tom, you can use decoys along with your turkey calls. There are three different categories of decoys–two-dimensional silhouettes, stuffed decoys, and three-dimensional collapsible/inflatable decoys–and each have their own pros and cons. The two-dimensional ones are the least realistic and the cheapest, while the stuffed decoys are the most realistic-looking and the most expensive. The collapsible/inflatable decoys are the most commonly used in turkey hunting because they look real, are portable, and are still quite affordable.
Use Bad Weather to Your Advantage
Don’t give up on your turkey hunting trip if the weather outside is frightful. The bad weather can actually work to your advantage if you have a good strategy! If it’s windy out, make your way to a hillside or valley where the turkeys will be gathering to escape the wind, and if it’s raining, ignore your instinct to head for cover and hit the fields instead. The birds will be preening there soon after the rain ceases. And finally, if it’s bitterly cold, look for hens at the edges of the field, where they (and soon the toms) will be soaking up the sun’s rays.
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