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.
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.
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.
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.
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.