Turkey Hunting Tips for Beginners
Turkeys are one of the most popular game species in North America, rivaling whitetails in some sections of the country. There is good reason for the popularity as turkeys are cunning, have excellent eye sight and harder to outsmart than most beginners think. In truth, the turkey is often under estimated as an adversary. If you are preparing for your first turkey hunt you will need all the help you can get if you are to fill your tag. Let us give you some useful pointers to get you started.
Rely on those who know
There is no reason to go it alone when enjoying a new outdoor adventure. Regardless of what you might think hunters are more than willing to share their knowledge with newbies. They may not take you to their secret spot, but most are more than willing to help you get started. All you need to do is ask. Do not forget the professionals who protect your state’s natural resources either. The fish & game professionals are all sportsmen as well and enjoy sharing their knowledge and insider tips with fellow sportsmen.
Turkeys can be taken with a wide variety of weapons include bow & arrow, crossbow, muzzleloader & in some jurisdictions rifles, although the shotgun is most commonly used. Be sure to check local regulations before selecting a firearm to ensure it is legal where you will be hunting. If using a shotgun, the standard is the 12-gauge fitted with full choke and loaded with either #4, #5 or #6 shot. You should pattern your personal shotgun with various loads to determine which works best with that firearm.
Turkeys can not detect sound or scent as well as other game species, such as the whitetail, but their eye sight is as keen as any. For this reason, camouflage is not an option, it is a necessity. You need to cover everything head to toe including face masks, gloves and paint on any exposed skin. Most hunters also camouflage their guns as well. Increase your concealment by taking a position against a tree, shrub or other natural material as it will make you blend even better.
Calling has a tendency to get new hunters into trouble. Poorly done calls and calling too much does more harm than good, driving birds away before you ever see them. Practice calling long before hitting the woods and select a call that is easier to learn, such as the box call. Once it is time to hunt keep calling to a minimum. Call to let birds know where you are and just enough to keep them moving in your direction.
It is possible to hunt without decoys, but there is no doubt they increase the odds in your favor. As with calling I recommend you keep your decoys to a minimum – a hen & jake early in the season and 1 or 2 hens later. Male decoys tend to frighten off younger toms and can cause dominate toms to tend hen rather than strutting into range.
Taking the shot
Once a bird has entered your effective range, usually inside 45 yards, it is time to take the shot. If you plan on harvesting and eating your bird head shots are a must, otherwise you will be picking shot from your teeth. Pick out a bird, focus, breath and squeeze the trigger.
Once final piece of advice – HAVE FUN! Hunting is about more than harvesting a trophy, it is about enjoying your time in the field and connecting with friends or family in the process. Make every day count by making every hunt enjoyable.