Game

6 Steps to Spring Turkey Success

April 10, 2015
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©istockphoto/RyanVincePhotography

©istockphoto/RyanVincePhotography

To beginners, calling and killing a wild turkey can seem close to impossible—trust me, it’s not. By following these six easy steps, you will be looking down the barrel of your shotgun at a gobbler in no time.

Gear Up 
The first items you’ll need are a turkey call(s), a shotgun, and camouflage clothing.

Beginners should start with a box or a pot and peg call. As you become more experienced, adding different calls to your bag of tricks will help you be more successful.

Your gun should be equipped with a tight choke, a reliable sighting system, and paired with the appropriate ammunition.

Your clothing should be comfortable, quiet, and camouflage and include a facemask and gloves for total concealment. A seat cushion is a must for any turkey hunt since you will be spending much of your time parked at the base of a tree. This seemingly optional piece of gear will keep you drier and more comfortable and will ultimately make you more successful.

Scout 
Spring gobblers announce their presence almost every day. Gobbles can be heard from up to a mile away. Capitalize on this by learning where the birds are before the season.

Two to three weeks before the opener, start rising before dawn and listening for turkeys in your hunting area. As the season gets closer, pinpoint the bird that gobbles most and attempt to find his roost tree after he has flown down. If a bird is roosting in the same place every night, the forest floor beneath the tree will be littered with droppings.

Scout hard and find as many gobblers as possible. This way, if the bird you are after is silent or refuses to come in, you will have another option.

Set Up 
On opening morning, go to the home of your “hottest” gobbler. When he starts gobbling, close the distance as much as possible. Once you’ve crept as close as possible without spooking the tom, find a tree to sit against.

Ideally, your set up tree will be wider than your shoulders to break up your outline. Look for a spot that will offer shade as the gobbler approaches. Last, but not least, try to put some type of visual barrier between you and the gobbler, so that when you can see him (and vice versa) he is already within gun range.

Call Him In
Call sparingly to a gobbler on the roost. Start with a few clucks. Then move on to some soft tree yelps. If he gobbles a response, shut up until he flies down. Calling to a roosted gobbler can make him hang up in the tree to wait for the hen to come to him.

Once the gobbler hits the ground, give him a few more soft calls. If he responds and seems to be approaching, stay quiet and get ready. If he goes silent for several minutes (15,) call again with more excitement to elicit a response. Even if he doesn’t gobble back, your best bet is to stay still and ready until you see the turkey or hear him gobble again.

Make the Shot
If a gobbler is approaching your calls and gobbling, keep your gun pointed in the direction of the gobbles. When you see the turkey, don’t move. Wait for his head to go behind a tree or other obstruction before getting your gun quickly and quietly into position. A lot of turkeys have lived through some dangerous encounters because hunters moved at the wrong time.

Once the turkey is in range, aim for his wattles, where the feathers meet the neck and squeeze the trigger.

Eat Up 
The culinary reward for a successful turkey hunt is small compared to that of an elk or deer hunt, but no less satisfying. Wild turkey breast meat is better than anything you can find in the store. Some personal favorite recipes include grilled turkey breast and gobbler hot wings. Wild turkey legs and thighs tend to be a bit tough, but still make great soups, stocks, and slow cooked cuisine.

 

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