Pelican Flyer •
September 15, 2020
Turkey is an excellent game to hunt. However, it requires proper gear and a basic understanding of scouting and calling–plus, the methods of using decoys to get the gobbler all riled up over his territory. It’s lots of patience and work, but in the end, the challenge of a turkey hunt can also be a ton of fun.
Ready to carve your own turkey? Learn how to turkey hunt and bring home a great big gobbler.
Before we go through the basics of how to turkey hunt, it’s essential to talk about gear. Here is some of the more common equipment to consider bringing along on a turkey hunt:
Turkeys require a diverse habitat with nearby food, water and shelter. While they might find food near fields of grain, they also need trees to roost in. While this might seem to make scouting trickier, if you can determine areas with all three, you have hit the jackpot. Look for large trees where they roost, but also with sparse timber. Somewhere nearby should be open, non-forested land. You can also hunt public land with a booming turkey population. Even if turkeys feel more hunting pressure, they have lots of room to roam.
When scouting for turkeys, follow the gobblers. To do so, you typically need private land permission and public land access to determine their habitat. Once there, look and listen.
Keep your eyes peeled for signs such as turkey tracks left behind in mud, snow or sandy areas. Scratching is also a clear indicator, especially around oaks, beech nuts and other mast trees, and point to a flock. Droppings are also a giveaway. Look for older droppings now, but fresher droppings later to determine a good scouting standpoint. Look for dusting areas in loose soil or sand where they tend to roll around and drag marks where they strut, dragging their wingtips.
Listen for gobblers in the early dawn hours. If you can find some elevation to watch them come strutting into view, this is your prime spot.
Mature tom turkeys become territorial when other jakes harass their harem. And it’s this gobbler’s protectiveness that can work to your advantage. To catch the gobblers’ attention, especially young 2-year-old ones seeking a mate, combine the hen and jake decoys together to invite some competition.
Strutting decoys can invoke a challenge, too, inviting the dominant gobbler into your sights and full aim. However, the more sub-dominant longbeards will be turned off, not wasting their time.
Don’t use a decoy when hunting in deep woods, as turkeys are near-sighted and can spook once they find the decoy. Also be wary of any over-hunted areas where the turkey might have seen their fair share of decoys already.
Once you scout an excellent hunting site, find a close spot along their route where the turkey will hear the call. Make sure there are open shooting lanes where the turkey will step into range. Use your calls to imitate turkeys, calling your game into view.
The most common turkey calls are the plain cluck and the hen yelp. While there are over 30 turkey calling sounds in the wild, these are the most time-tested for hunting turkey.
Ready to take down a granddaddy gobbler? Hopefully, this introductory guide can get you started on your next turkey hunt. Before you know it, you’ll be proudly serving up freshly hunted turkey at Thanksgiving.
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