Spring turkey hunting provides an outdoor experience that is equaled by very few others. Chasing turkeys in spring is exciting and challenging, and to many hunters, it is addictive. When a tom is strutting just beyond range or gobbles nearby, even a seasoned hunter can experience a racing heartbeat.
Wild turkeys have extremely honed senses. Their hearing and eyesight are some of the sharpest of the woods. It is the nature of a turkey to retreat at the first suspicion of danger, and one false move can make a gobbler seem to vanish into thin air. This challenge creates the adventure of turkey hunting and is attracting additional turkey hunters every year. We will discuss a few of the basics to kick-start your turkey hunting.
To start your spring turkey hunt, you must first locate the turkeys. It is easiest to locate general turkey habitat, then break it down to a particular area, then to a particular plot of property, and then fine tune to specific hunting locations.
Once you identify several potential hunting locations, you can begin field scouting. Grab a detail area map and start driving the back roads at dawn. Stop at high points, ridges, power lines, and open river and creek bottoms to hear turkeys gobbling.
Use a locator call, like a crow call or an owl hooter to try to spur a response. If you hear a gobble, mark the general location on your map and move to the next area.
When you have scouted your areas by vehicle, it is a good idea to return to the best locations and scout on foot. Look for signs of turkeys, such as scratching, feathers, droppings, and tracks. Make numerous trips to the locations and learn the key terrain features like fence rows, creeks, pastures, logging roads, etc. Learning these features can ease navigations on your turkey hunt.
Camouflage is a necessity to avoid the keen eyes of a wild turkey. This should include camouflage clothes, gloves, facemask, cap, and dark-colored socks. A pocket filled camouflage turkey hunting vest is also great for holding shells, calls, and other necessary turkey hunting equipment, along with providing a cushion to sit on. With numerous camouflage patterns available, choose a pattern that most closely matches the area you are going to hunt.
Shotguns and Ammunitions
The ideal ammunition and shotgun combination for hunting turkeys produces a hard-hitting, dense pattern out to about 45 yards. Larger 12 and 10 gauge shotguns with full or extra full choke tubes coupled with 3” to 3 ½” magnum loads of #4 – #6 shot are the most popular choices.
With any type of shotgun hunting, it is essential to pattern your shotgun and ammunition choices before you hunt. When you pattern your gun, use a turkey silhouette target and shoot from various distances up to your maximum shot range.
Turkey Calls and Turkey Calling
Knowing when and how to call turkeys is typically an essential element to a successful turkey hunt. Imitating turkey sounds, especially those of a hen, can bring a tom into range. Hens create various sounds including yelps, cuts, whines, clucks, and purrs. There are various types of instruction materials available for learning how to call turkeys. You do not have to be an expert turkey caller. A good knowledge of the basic yelp and cluck is often all that is needed.
There are several types of turkey calls available. Each type provides a unique sound, and each type will call turkeys. At times, one type of turkey call may work better than others. Carrying a couple types of calls can be beneficial to your hunt.
When you call turkeys, less is often better. Overcalling may lead to a bad note or excess movement that could alert the turkeys that you are hunting.
When you put all of these things together and go on your first hunt, slip in quietly and set up to start calling. Set up in a spot that provides an easy route for the gobbler and provides you with an adequate view of the area. Pick a tree to sit against to break up your outline and provide protection for your back. Sit facing the direction of the turkey roost. Make minimal movements, even with using the turkey calls.
When a gobbler answers your call, all of your preparation and scouting pay off. You may not harvest turkeys every time, but that adds to the challenge and addition of wild turkey hunting.