It can be quite hard adjusting to the run and gun method of Turkey hunting from that of jigging a rod on hard water or even scaling large rivers for steel head. To be prepared for the spring bird bonanza, hunters must have all their ducks in a row before season. Going into the season unprepared could cost you big time. Make sure you follow these quick tips so you are prepared to gun down springs most sought after game.
Get in Shape
Being in shape is crucial to a Turkey hunter. This doesn’t mean you have to be able to lift a car or run ten miles without stopping for air. I only suggest you get your legs fit enough for scaling modest ridges and walking fair amounts of distances in order to have the right setup on a gobbler. Simple walks on a spring evening can do wonders for mobility. We all know being in shape is crucial to any physical demanding sport, so don’t let yourself be subject to unnecessary fatigue. Give yourself the edge by exercising your legs and building a decent lung capacity. The last thing you want is to be too tired to get in the right position on a good Turkey.
An inventory of all your gear is something you should have at all times. Keep it in an email or a notebook you keep for hunting. I have an inventory list for pretty much everything I do. It ensures I am ready for all my seasons. This check list will help you make sure all your needed gear is where it needs to be. Mouth calls, slate calls, binoculars, or facemasks are essential to turkey hunting success. Imagine if you got all set up on some roosted birds and you didn’t have your mouth calls. Unless you are good at calling turkeys without a call, you just wasted a setup.
Go through your gear a couple weeks or even months before the season. Make sure you have all the gear you need. Use a plastic tote to secure all your gear. Check down everything that is in there and everything that is not, but needs to be. This gives you a good idea of what you need to get before the season. That way, comes season, you will be free of worry and able to concentrate more on scouting.
Luckily, Turkeys are not as complicated as Deer, at least in my mind. You can take a couple days leading up to the season to drive around and pinpoint areas of interest. Do some ground work and look for roosting areas. Usually at every roosting site you will find dropping and feathers scattered along the forest floor. Keep those areas in mind when you are trying to puts some birds to bed.
Scouting can be done in many forms. Whether using satellite imagery, driving around or good ole on the hoof scouting, all is effective. Make sure you are keeping up with the birds in your area. A lot changes happen in the spring. Food becomes more abundant as the snow melts away and Toms will also be on the move for hens. This is why I like to start scouting at least two weeks in advance.
Shoot Your Gun
Whether it be Bow or Shotgun, it is always smart to practice. Practice at different ranges as well as the different positions you may be sitting in when making a shot. If you plan on hunting with a bow in a ground blind, then practice exactly that. I always make the reference that football players do not practice with basketballs on a tennis court for a reason. Practice in the conditions in which you will be perform.
As a guide and video producer, nothing sets me off like a hunter missing a turkey at point blank range. I have called birds within 15 yards of hunters only to have them knock off a few feathers. I’m always amazed when I ask them if they had practiced and they tell me no. That is completely uncalled for. As a hunter, we owe it to our quarry to practice with the weapon in which we intend to harvest our them.
This touches off base on the practice but does take precedence. Make sure you are using the right load for your shotgun. Invest in a good load. I have used both 12 and 20 gauges to harvest turkey. I enjoy the full choke 20 gauge because it’s light and less experienced shooters I may be hunting with are less intimidated by the recoil. With that being said, make sure you use a good load for the specific gun you are using. I like to use number 5 shot for the simple reason that it packs enough punch and it has enough bb’s to cause a good head thrashing. Whatever you choose to use, choose wisely.
Shake Off the Rust
Lastly, makes sure you practice with all the gear you intend on using during your chase for Spring Gobblers. Take out your calls, whatever they may be, and practice your yelps and purrs. You do not want to enter the woods opening morning and start yelping at a Tom, to only sound like a drunken chicken trying to mimic a goose. That would be embarrassing even if no one else was with you. I like to set my call by my desk. When I’m video editing or writing articles, I can annoy my lovely fiancé while practicing my ever so gentle purrs and sharp cutting yelps!
There are a lot of tools in your Turkey vest that you can pay little attention to, but your calls are as important as the weapon you use. Make sure you’re sharp on all your calling. I like to watch videos of live turkeys. As I hear the sounds they make, I try to mimic them with the various calls I carry in my vest. This will assure your sounds are realistic and in tune to natural turkey behavior.
I hope this article has grappled your brain into Spring Turkey mode. If you practice these steps in your routine before every season, I guarantee you will be that much better and even more confident. If you’re going to be practicing your calling in the house, I suggest you buy your significant other a bouquet of flowers or some other type of peace offering. It can get ugly guys! If you have any questions or comments about this article, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook. I love hearing from readers and sportsman alike. This is Alvin Sitkiewicz signing off. Stay Wild!