Turkey Hunting Guide | How to Hunt Turkey Effectively
Thanksgiving this year, is not too far. And it’s an occasion when I am often asked about turkey hunting. So I thought to share my own way of turkey hunting. Wild turkey, a big sized game bird is farmed on a larger scale across the US. Family occasions like Christmas and Thanksgiving are incomplete without it. Most of the people do not have any idea of how to hunt turkey. They take it as a simply effortless adventure. Let me make it clear, it is not easy to hunt turkeys.
Turkey is probably the most paranoid bird to hunt down.
And above all, it comes with an extraordinary sense of hearing and sight. So you cannot befool it so easily.
In other words, hunting down a turkey does involve tactics on the part of the hunter.
Before we discuss the best way to hunt the gobblers down, let’s discuss a bit about things to be considered before setting out to the final frontier.
So How to Hunt Turkey Effectively?
Step 1: Season to Hunt a Turkey!
Firstly, you would have to notice the season for hunting. The open season for turkey hunting is probably from March to May. But you may hunt for turkey in fall as well. Mostly people opt for spring season to hunt them as it’s the mating season.
And you are more likely to find turkeys in it, as this is the period when male turkeys are more active and looking for hens to breed. But late season is also quite suitable for hunting the gobblers, but with a little bit of change in the tactic.
- Pro Tip: Alaska is the only state of US that does not allow turkey hunting in spring.
Step 2: Grab your Hunting License First!
Knowing how to hunt turkey is not enough. Make sure you have your hunting license. Like I always advise, doing it legal should be the top most priority of both recreational and professional hunters. The local Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) or Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in your state must be contacted to inquire all the necessary info about your hunting license.
Step 3: Hunting Gear You Must Have!
- Make sure you have camouflage clothing as fooling a turkey is not that simple. Like I have mentioned earlier, turkeys have strong senses. So you better be prepared well to trap them.
- Hunting decoys are a great way to draw the prey’s attention. Turkey decoys are easily available. Simply calling a turkey and placing decoys can give great results.
- Getting hidden in the blinds (optional) and waiting for the prey can be proved useful while hunting a skittish bird like turkey. These handy and lightweight blinds are easily available in hunting stores.
- Choose your weapon keeping in mind the season. You must be thinking, what the season has to do with weapons? In autumn, you are going to have younger and smaller turkeys (poults). So a smaller (1¾ ounces of size) shotgun with smaller load (6 shots) would be more than enough for hunting. Quite contrary to it, spring season promises grown up and big sized gobblers. So you would need ammo accordingly.
Step 4: Where to find and hunt for Turkeys?
Locating a turkey is easier in spring as compared to fall/autumn. In fall turkeys are less vocal and active so finding them requires more efforts on hunter’s part. An ideal habitat for turkeys include open plains, long grass with high timbers to roost, food and water at hand. Corn fields, wheat fields and berry fields are mostly surrounded by the turkeys.
The areas inhabited by turkeys can easily be identified by the common signs. These may include;
- Broken feathers
- Tree trunks carved with V-shape scratches
- Excrement at the base of the trees
- Note: Male droppings are bigger in size with a shape like ‘J’ letter. Female turkey droppings are comparatively small in size with a round shape.
In short a diverse environment is what these birds look for. You can choose both public hunting land as well as private land for turkey hunting. I personally like to hunt in the public land. Covering a wider area for hunting seems more adventurous to me.
And secondly, these public lands have plenty of turkeys to hunt as compared to private hunting land. For finding these hunting areas, simply log in to any of the state wildlife agency websites and gather the info.
- Note: If you wish to hunt on a private land, make sure you take permission of the lands owner ahead of time.
Step 5: How to Hunt Turkey by Calling them?
Once you have reached the hunting area, place the turkey decoys. If you have blinds sit inside and be prepared to call the turkeys. (If you do not intend to use the blinds, take your position in a camouflaged hunting dress behind some tree). Your distance from decoys should be about 40 yards or so.
- Note: Using blinds is just an option. In my case, I prefer mobility and flexibility in hunting. And that is not possible sitting inside the blinds. Blind is best recommended for severe weather conditions like rain or hunting in open, sunny fields.
Many of you would be thinking why should we call them? Let me clear it for you all. Male turkeys usually vocalize and strut to entice the hens. And hens do react in their clucking sound and try to follow the gobbler’s voice.
This happens in spring season. So you would have to vocalize keeping it all in mind. In fall male turkeys live together in flocks and not with the hens. So this season requires a totally opposite and changed tactic. In short;
- Each hunting season requires a different strategy.
- For fall season, make hen sounds to lure hens and tom sounds for attracting male turkeys.
- In spring (the mating season), a hen’s sound would attract gobblers while a tom sound would attract the hens.
Using a Box Call to Call the Turkey
A box call is a narrow, rectangular wooden box. These are easy to use and capable of making various sounds of a wild turkey. The volume can be high enough especially for the windy days. A really innovative idea that I always suggest for all.
The best thing about it is that you can learn to play these box calls easily, as most of these come with instructions at their back. And some are packed with CD’s and DVD’s with tutorials for playing it.
Step 6: Load your Gun and Sit Alert!
Keep your gun loaded but in downrange. Sit by the tree with your back against the tree, totally hidden from the bird’s eyes. Any unnecessary movement by you can alert the bird. And you may lose your prey. Make sure that it has reached within your range. This is the moment you have been waiting for.
Step 7: Aim for the Neck!
I always stress on the importance of killing in a humane way. For turkey hunting too, aim straight to the neck. Hopefully, if you are a good shooter, the bird will be dead immediately. In case, it does not get killed and runs away with wounds, follow it and try to kill it as quickly as possible.
- Note: If you are using a bow and arrow to hunt the turkey, almost the same shooting rules apply. But keep the distance between you and the bird about 20 to 25 yards. And your aim should be the neck area to kill it instantly.
No doubt, hunting a turkey is a fun adventure. But it also requires a proper strategy on the part of the hunters, both experienced and novice. You can’t simply go out there and kill them outrageously.
Following all the stages mentioned here may prove a real help, if followed in the right manner. I hope you all would have a better understanding of how to hunt turkey after reading the info shared here.
All the Best and Happy Hunting!
Do you like hunt deer? So you must know what do deer it. Here i have an article for you. Hope it can help!