This list is a collection of some common things to remember and unique lessons we’ve learned over the years. We hope it will be of as much use to you as we hope it will be for our children when the time comes to dress ’em up in full camo hand them the shotgun. Enjoy!
The early bird gets the worm and the earlier hunter gets the bird. Turkeys wake up and start their day early so you should too. If you have been scouting you should have a good idea where they roost so arriving in area before them come down can give you a leg up on a tom. You can set up ahead of time and be waiting for them.
Be prepared to walk
Sometimes turkey hunting requires a lot of walking through the country. But that’s OK because you have been training for this all year! But even if you haven’t so long as you have a good pair of boots you should be OK.
Turkey’s don’t always make it easy on us so be prepared to call and walk, call and walk, call and walk until you either see your prey or hear them. All that walking is not only good for you but is worth it when you get that first gobbling answer to your call.
Practice calling at home
Turkeys can be very picky with what they hear and trust and exponentially so if they start hearing your attempt at a turkey call that sounds like a hyena and screaming eagle mating rather than a hen talking. It is always good to practice your calling at home prior to heading out into the bush because there is nothing more satisfying than talking to a tom that is with hens and convincing him to come to you.
Be patient and consistent while calling
It may take a while to finally hear a tom gobble in reply to your call. It may also never happen but you never know for sure so you have to be patient with your calling. You don’t want to over do it out of impatience thinking the more the better but you also don’t want to do it too infrequent.
A tom may have raised his head when he heard you the first time and got interested but then decided that it was just his imagination since he never heard it again. Moderation in all things but be consistent.
Be patient while sitting
Once you’ve picked a spot to sit either because you heard a tom gobble back at you and you think he’s near or because you think it is just a good place to wait for one to come through you have to be patient once you finally sit.
Let things “calm down” around you and commit to giving it 30-45 minutes at least. If you don’t hear a tom gobble back to your call that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t one 10 feet away. Err on the side of belief he is just about to walk in.
Get comfortable when sitting
Along those lines if you’re going to be sitting for awhile be sure to position your body in a comfortable way. You’ll want to make sure you can see as much as possible by just moving your eyes as well as be able to swing your gun in the proper direction when ready.
You’ll want to sit in such a way that will minimize your legs falling asleep and you having to readjust too much. If a tom is close any movements can scare him away.
Get your gun ready but don’t hold it up just yet
While sitting make sure your gun is ready, shell in the chamber, safety on. Unless you know for certain that a turkey is walking in to your setup don’t hold up your gun but instead rest it on your knee, across your legs or in some other position that allows your arms to rest.
Practice pulling your gun up to shooting position so that you’ll have muscle memory when the time is right. Ideally you’ll hear the turkey coming in and can pull your gun up smoothly so that he doesn’t see it and scare off. Your arms will thank you.
Move your eyes more than your head
Turkey have pretty dang good eyesight so you’ll want to be in a position where you don’t have to move your head too much to be able to see around you. If you are seated up against a tree or hedge row you can look forward but be able to move your eyes left to right covering the 180 degree view point. If you move your head to much hoping to see something the turkey could see this movement and scare off.
Use your ears more than ever
Turkey hunting is great because it trains you to use your ears more than ever which more of us need to do these days. Not only will you be hearing the beautiful sounds of nature all around you will be listening for clicks, hums, clucks, footsteps and gobbles of turkeys.
There is nothing that will get my heart pounding more than when I know a tom is coming in to me but I haven’t heard from him in a while then all of a sudden I hear a gobble so loud is sounds like it is on top of me. Makes it all worth it!
Look at bead and aim for base of neck
You do all that work so be sure to finish the job! When that turkey is in front of you aim down your barrel and line up that dot or bead with the base of the neck to ensure you kill it and don’t miss.
I have missed before and it is a terrible feeling wondering if you wounded it but also just knowing you’ll have to wait until the next one with that missed shot doubt running through your mind. UGH.
Take one at a time
There comes times when more than one turkey is right there in front of you and it crosses your mind to take more than one. You might think you can get two with one shot if they just line up properly enough…my advice to make sure you get one at least by taking the best one when the shot is right. Bird in the hand and all.
If you wait too long for the perfect shot they could spook for any number of reasons and if you shoot you could end up missing both which sucks. Turkey deserve the respect enough to be killed with one shot each.
No need to go crazy with gear, simple works
When buying turkey hunting gear you can spend a whole boatload of money getting the highest end stuff if you want but it really isn’t necessary. Yes, there are some things that you don’t want to go cheap on such as boots but most regular working class gear does the trick just right.
You don’t need the nicest, newest top of the line gear each year to have a successful turkey hunt. Just be sure to get items that will make your hunt as comfortable as possible and the rest will take care of itself.
Get good boots
Our #1 most important item. First and foremost it is essential to be comfortable on your feet. Comfort is defined by dryness and distance. You could be walking a whole lot, miles in fact, during your hunt so you want a boot that will allow you to be comfortable the whole time.
Perhaps even more important than a boot you can walk long distances in though is a boot that will keep your socks dry. This is absolute key especially in the spring when there can be a lot of dew on the ground in the morning.
The last important item to consider in boots is snake protection. Depending upon where you are the early spring can be a perfect time to run into our sneaky slithering friends.
Bottom line, a good pair of boots is not one article of gear to be penny wise and a pound foolish with. Luckily though there are many affordable options that give all the benefits mentioned above.
Get a comfortable chair
You may also find yourself doing a lot of sitting close to the ground waiting for that tom that you were talking with to come into your setup. Problem is toms sometimes take their sweet time and patience can be the difference between getting your trophy and being too uncomfortable and impatient causing you to get up too soon and scaring that very quiet trophy tom that was coming in just right around the bush.
The second most important gear item to aid in your comfort while set up and waiting is a comfortable chair. It is worth its weight in gold. You can buy a turkey vest that has a padded seat attached to it but I highly recommend getting a turkey chair. Get you one. While you’ll have to carry it around with you on your shoulder you’ll get the hang of it and I promise, you’ll thank me.
Get a versatile vest
Your turkey vest is crucial as it carries all the tools you need to get your gobbler. You’ll need one that has enough compartments for the call your choice or several different calls, your gloves, your face mask, your knife, perhaps a small set of binoculars and your meat bags.
No need to go overboard on this item just make sure the vest has good compartments that will close properly such as with zippers because there is nothing worse than moving to another spot and settling in realizing that your slate call has fallen out of our vest somewhere.
Take a decoy for a laugh
Decoys are great to use to get your tom all riled up and ready to come close to you. A hen decoy is all that is really needed but if you really want to make the tom jealous set her out with a jake decoy.
There is nothing funnier than watching a tom attack a jake decoy. You’ll have to keep your laughing down to yourself and finally regain your composure though so as to not scare him off. You can then put him out of his jealous rage with one shell.
Call ’em in
You’ll definitely want a way to talk to the turkeys and my favorite method is the good ole fashioned slate call. For those of us who can’t stand the thought or feeling of a mouth call (it gags me, there I said it), this is the tried and true way to go.
It takes some practice but once you get it down you can do all manners of calls depending upon what the situation requires. One caveat though, it is hard to carry all your gear with you and use the slate call but once you get the hang of it you’ll be holding court with toms in no time.
Blend in like the Predator
Turkey’s have much better vision out in the bush than we do as humans. A big part of turkey hunting is just trying to stay concealed from a turkey’s view while you’re chasing him. You’ll need some good camo that matches the terrain where you’re hunting. There really isn’t any one size fits all but a good generic pattern and colors can go a long way.
You’ll also what to consider the climate of where you’re hunting. Be sure to buy camo that helps you handle the weather wherever you are or can fit over winter weather gear if you are hunting in the cold.
A hat with mesh is easier
As with camo shirts and pants you’ll need a good face mask to cover up that beautiful mug from prying eyes. I love the hat with the built in mesh as it also helps block out the sun when I happen to be sitting facing east in the morning or west in the evening.
At camo hat with built in mesh makes it so much easier to simply shake down the face mask when sitting and you’re ready to go. No need to mess with putting on a mesh cover mask and then your hat. And you won’t lose it as easily as a separate mesh face mask which is an added plus.
Don’t forget gloves
Now that you’ve covered up most all you body finally you’ve got to cover up your hands as well. If you’re in a moderate climate and you have good circulation keeping them warm most of the time be sure to get some nice light weight gloves that allow you to shoot comfortably with them on.
You won’t want to be taking them off to shoot when that tom is right in front of you. If you are in a cold weather area get the winter gloves with the trigger finger. Of course you may already have a pair though for deer hunting so you could just use those.
Take good care of your gear
My final piece of advice that I learned the hard way when I started hunting, be sure to always take the time to take good care of your gear and it will last for many, many years taking good care of you. And save you a bundle of money too.
Now that you’re equipped with all the knowledge you need for a successful and fun hunt, get out there, put out your decoy and get your trophy!
Do you have any tips and pointers that we missed on this list? Send them to us and we’ll add them here and give you credit! Thanks!