UPDATED ON: May 1st, 2015
Spring is in the air, leaves are turning green, and gobbles are echoing through the woods. It’s that time of year again, turkey hunters are getting geared up and more than likely driving their loved ones crazy practicing all their turkey calling skills. But there is so much more to preparing for opening morning than simply knocking the dust off of your favorite call.
As opening morning approaches, I visualize what I will do by playing out several different scenarios in my head. I have been on hunts ranging from where I never even had to call and the hunt was done in five minutes, to hunts where I have spent hours on end waiting for that gobbler to commit and come in range. My philosophy is to always prepare for the worst, because you never know what you will have to do to accomplish success. Here are some of my best tips to help you to find success in the turkey woods this spring…
Before each hunt, make sure all your gear is in order and organized to your liking. This also includes having all your slate calls sanded, box calls chalked, & mouth diaphragms ready to go based on your preference. Test your organizational skills: with your eyes closed, can you grab any call at any time without rustling through your turkey pack? We all know how critical it is to be as still as possible and minimize as much movement because remember, turkeys eat bugs we can’t even see.
Whenever hunting without the aid of a blind, make sure that you blend in well with your background and choose your movements wisely. Turkeys have exceptional eye-sight.
Get Your Birds In A Row
Have all your decoys ready to be set in the ground. You don’t want to make a lot of noise, forcing turkeys off their roost nearby. Make sure your decoys are facing you so the approaching gobbler comes around the front of your decoys to show his dominance. If you are bow hunting, this is critical, because it allows you to get to full draw without being seen by the gobbler. Also, use your decoys as a yardage marker, and if possible during scouting, put something natural like a stick at each of your yardage markers.
The less noise you make the better your odds of tagging a bird. Preparation will greatly aid in reducing unwanted noise from fumbling in the dark searching for calls, decoys, etc. The author (pictured here) has proven this technique works time and time again.
Know Your Bow
If you are bow hunting, be confident in your shooting capabilities. The vitals on a turkey are much smaller than other big game animals we hunt, so precision and pin usage must be accurate. Aim small, miss small. There are certain locations on a turkey to aim at based on the gobblers’ positioning. Practice by shooting at a small circle on your targets. There’s no doubt getting the bird in range is most of the time the hardest part, but making sure you are on point with your shooting is what seals the deal.
Spend plenty of time shooting and becoming familiar with the equipment you will be using. In some cases, different broadhead and arrow options are used for turkey hunting. Make sure you know how your rig will perform before heading afield chasing long-beards.
Proper In-The-Field Setting
If possible, have a back drop and cover in front of you to camouflage your presence. The more you blend in, the easier it may be to get away with a little movement while changing out calls, getting in position for the shot, or coming to full draw. Be still! Some birds may come in silent and who knows how far the bird that hears your calling may be. He could be watching you but you haven’t seen him yet!
When placing your decoys, always position them so that they are facing you. This way, when that gobbler comes in and wishes to strut his stuff and show dominance, he will be forced to circle in front of the decoys, turning his back to you, allowing you to reach full-draw.
The biggest mistake most turkey hunters make in my opinion is calling too much. If a gobbler is responding to your calls, he already knows of your whereabouts. Once he commits and is approaching, hush it. Understanding when to call and what call to use comes with turkey hunting experience. The more you hunt the better you will become at this skill.
Have food and water in your pack just in case your hunt ends up being longer than you expect. If you can, pack a small soft cooler. If not, make some homemade jerky or pack nuts, seeds, or bananas that do not have to be refrigerated. Just remember, keep it wholesome! Since the pollen count is usually high during this time of year, start taking an antihistamine a few days prior to your hunt. You want to make sure you are operating at optimum predator mode.
Coming to full-draw on a turkey is tough but it is possible; especially when you cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Be prepared and make your own luck!
In conclusion, it’s all about the experience. Nothing gets my adrenaline flowing more than the sound of a gobbler responding and committing to my calling. I don’t get caught up in the size of the bird as much as I do of how the hunt unfolds. It’s the story behind the hunt that makes it a good story to share around the campfire. Good luck, shoot straight, and Hunt Strong. Davie “Crockett” Ferraro