Category Archives: Turkey Hunting

Bag a Wild Turkey for Thanksgiving

Image: www.realtree.com

Image: www.realtree.com

It might not get the love and attention of its springtime counterpart, but unless you’re a gobbler snob, the fall turkey season is just as good—if not better, given the fitting Thanksgiving overlap. Things like snowstorms and charging through a flock of turkeys like a fullback just don’t happen in the spring. With a little grit and some new tactics, every spring gobbler fanatic can make the successful transition to fall. Here are some tips and tactics to help you come up clutch with a wild bird on Thanksgiving.

Be a Location Scout

Image: bestturkeydecoy.com

Image: bestturkeydecoy.com

As with spring, the key to success is locating birds. But without thunderous gobbles to go by, visual scouting takes on a bigger role. If the area you hunt is mostly deciduous forest, look for the large swaths of disturbed leaf litter created by feeding flocks of birds. Deer will create patches of upturned litter as well, but you know you’re onto turkeys when it looks like somebody drove through the woods with a John Deere. If it’s wet and green, look for an open field where birds can feed on insects.

Booze Cruise

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Image: en.wikipedia.org

For this particular mission, you will be unarmed because firearms and alcohol do not mix. Your mission? Locate the roost. Now that it’s fall, you have the distinct advantage of being able to see through the trees. Brew yourself a hot toddy with Wild Turkey (obviously), and then find a hill or ridgetop with a good view and wait for the birds to tuck themselves in. Hopefully you still remember the location of the roost the next morning. If not, just look for the tree with all the turkey fertilizer underneath it.

Not all who Wander are Lost

Image: picssr.com

Image: picssr.com

Calling in lost birds is one of the easiest ways to fill a tag in the fall. Lost hens and jakes will make singular, sad yelps until they’re right on your doorstep. Answer back with the same type of yelp until the bird is in range. Bad weather? Great! Snowstorms will work in your favor as young turkeys routinely get lost during the season’s first big snow. Humans also get lost during snowstorms, so bring your compass or some more recent technology to avoid having to tell the story at Thanksgiving.

The Bum Rush

Image: www.citypages.com

Image: www.citypages.com

By far the most exciting thing to happen in the fall is locating a flock of turkeys and running at them. Please, please—unload or leave your gun behind before doing this. The purpose of this time-honored tactic is to break up the flock in order to call them back in using your locator yelps and kee-kee runs. For this to work, you really need to give the birds the fright of their lives and get them going in all directions. Once you’ve done that, trade in your wolf mask for a mother turkeys, and let the games begin.

Mr. Clutch

Lakers legend Jerry West was Mr. Clutch because he hit big shots. You know what would be just as cool as Mr. Clutch under pressure? You showing up 15 minutes late to Thanksgiving dinner with a wild turkey under your arm and saying: “You can eat that Butterball if you like, but I’m gonna eat like a pilgrim.”

Top 5 YouTube Hunting and Outdoor Channels

Imagine if hunting was like the shows on Outdoor Channel: You get up at 8:00 a.m. (dang, that’s early!) and drive your camouflaged ATV 100 yards to a small condominium overlooking a soybean field where you can see in every direction for seven miles. After ten long minutes, the bucks start coming in, each bigger than the last and with names like Heart Attack and Linebacker because you’ve already ranked and catalogued them all on your trail camera. You pick the one you like because it has nice G4’s and a drop tine (it’s just like shopping), and then it magically appears in the back of a new Dodge Ram. Throw in some commercial breaks for Michael Waddell’s irresistible food coloring and corn syrup mineral licks, and that’s hunting. Fortunately there’s an alternative called YouTube, a democratized space where amateur videographers and outdoorsmen present alternative and more realistic depictions of hunting.

DIY Sportsman

The above video is probably the single best tutorial on public land scouting available on the web, and it’s yours for free thanks to Garrett Prahl aka DIY Sportsman. For the last three years, Garrett has built a small library of self-shot hunting and fishing videos set in Minnesota and Wisconsin that reflect his self-reliant philosophy of hunting. Garret is an extremely good hunter, but what I admire most his work is that he’s not afraid to make a video that reflects our most common experience as hunters: going home empty handed. There’s an elk hunting video on his channel where the high point is him waking up in the middle of the night to discover that his pants have frozen solid. How many of us screw things up while hunting? Yet every hunting show only depicts hunters getting it right. Garrett is able to pull this off because he knows you can learn as much from an unsuccessful hunt as a successful one. With each video, success or not, DIY Sportsman delivers an honest and informative take on hunting.

Virtuovice

I discovered Virtuovice’s channel a few years ago while looking for a tutorial on Japanese water stones. Virtuovice, also known as Wako, has since earned himself a cult following on YouTube for his expert knife reviews. Because Wako takes about 70 deer a year (the area where he lives is overrun), he’s personally field tested almost every quality hunting knife you can think of. This is real knowledge that can be useful for making your next purchase. Despite specializing in knife reviews, his self-shot sika deer hunts in the snowy mountains of Hokkaido are simply beautiful. I recommend this channel to anybody looking to buy their first hunting knife or learn the finer points of blade geometry.

Stuck N The Rut

Travis Schneider started Stuck N The Rut in 2010 to showcase his family’s free DIY hunting videos. The team’s excellent camera work, beautiful featured locales, and dedication to the concept of earning your hunt make Stuck N The Rut essential YouTube viewing. Although they’re young, these guys are absolute pros at what they do, and even the most experienced hunters can learn something new by watching them. Their Alaskan moose hunting videos are simply breathtaking.

Leatherwood Outdoors

Leatherwood Outdoors is a loose collective of truly dedicated and down-to-earth PA boys who document everything from hunting rattlesnakes and snapping turtles to using a flintlock shotgun for grouse. They’re rowdy, fun, and have no product to sell you. They simply love to hunt, and the videos capture their enthusiasm perfectly. If you’re just learning to hunt in the Northeast, this is great place to get some practical advice.

Primitive Pathways

Forget Bear Grylls: Billy Berger of Primitive Pathways is the guy you want on your side for the Apocalypse. In one video, he literally saws a branch off a tree, magically turns it into a longbow before your eyes, then proceeds to hunt with it. He’s as skilled a woodworker as he is a hunter. His videos on the use and effectiveness of stone and primitive weapons are both edifying and entertaining. This guy is the absolute real deal.

We just recently launched our Pocket Ranger® video channel where you can see even more hunting and fishing videos from contributors Bubba Rountree, Darcizzle Offshore, Fishing with Flair, Mr. Bluegill, Captain Ben Chancey from Chew on This, and more. Check it out, and make sure you download our Trophy Case mobile app before hunting season goes into full swing.

[Image: www.turkeydog.org]

So It Happened Again: Tips for Next Spring’s Turkey Hunt

Maybe it’s the glimmer of the gun’s metal as the sun came out from behind a cloud that caught the turkey’s eye. Maybe you switched from a light to a dark roast the night before, and the extra caffeine made you more fidgety than normal. Or maybe we turkey hunters should stop making excuses and remember some of the basics while we’re out hunting, at least for next spring.

Use Your Backpack for a Seat Cushion

It happens all the time: You stand up to relieve your aching backside only to discover that 20 yards behind you, a non-gobbling gobbler is flashing you his rear as he runs back into the woods. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to hunt effectively. For those who don’t own a turkey vest with a seat pad, a backpack stuffed with an extra sweater will do just fine.

That looks comfy! [Image: http://www.sportsmanswarehouse.com]

That looks comfy! [Image: http://www.sportsmanswarehouse.com]

Know Your Limits

When you can consistently place 8-10 pellets in the vital area at 40-45 yards, you’re ready to hunt. Beyond that, you risk injuring and losing a bird. Now fire the same loads at shorter distances to see what pattern you can expect.

Nice and tight [image: alandavy.wordpress.com]

Nice and tight. [Image: alandavy.wordpress.com]

Scout

Once you identify a good turkey habitat, look for tracks, droppings, and scratched out areas where birds have been feeding. Head back out at dawn the next day with a locator call, such an owl or crow call. If you get a bird to gobble, stop calling and mark it on a map. Excessive calling can make birds shy.

Obstacles

Gobblers want to strut in areas where they can be seen and easily approached by hens. Make sure there are no streams, gullies, fences, or other obstacles between you and the approaching turkey. You also want to avoid calling gobblers from a downhill position. Calling birds uphill is generally fine and in some cases preferred because it enhances visibility.

Image: www.recorder.com

Image: www.recorder.com

Silence is Golden

You have to resist the desire to fill the silence of the woods with your calls. Just because you can’t hear a bird doesn’t mean they’re not working their way towards you. Call for 5-10 minutes and then give it a good 10-15 minute rest. If the gobbler is answering your call but not closing the gap, your best strategy might be to give him the silent treatment.

Shhh! [Image: venturebeat.com]

Shhh! [Image: venturebeat.com]