Here are some ways you can approach your DIY hunts just like a turkey guide would.
Sometimes there’s no denying it: if you’re hunting with a turkey guide, you’re going to have an advantage.
This is almost certainly the case when you’re hunting in a new place, for the first several times. Unless you’ve done extensive scouting ahead of time and familiarized yourself with the area and the birds, going it alone is tough, period.
But there are some things you can do to work the odds into your favor, and they’re things that most turkey scouts apply to their hunts. You can do it yourself, save the money, and still come out of it with a positive experience. Most importantly, you’re going to drop a bird if you remember these pointers.
Make the choice
Doing a little research can help you determine where you’ll go. An out of state hunt can be easy and less expensive if you focus on surrounding states, preferably with seasons earlier or later than your own.
Since odds are you’ll be hunting public land, so all those rules will apply. Make sure you’re as familiar as possible with the area you’ll hunt. If Google Maps is the main source of pre-planning info, so be it.
A good guide is always going to find a high area to begin locating gobblers, and has a sense of the particular moves he can make, depending on where the turkeys happen to be.
Also, look into reports and success rates posted online by states’ hunting and fishing agencies. It could help make the final decision.
Hunt like you mean it
There’s no use skipping around it; this is going to be difficult. A determined and positive attitude is crucial, and an adaptable style or technique needs to be used.
Guides will often use a “less is more” approach to calling, and you should definitely use it too, but when it comes to moving around, as long as you can do it generally undetected, by all means do it. Setting up somewhere and waiting too long with no response or sightings doesn’t make much sense when you’re working with limited time and opportunities.
Move towards the toms you hear, and don’t hold out for too long if they won’t come to you.
Use tech to your advantage
Make sure a GPS, binoculars, and a rangefinder are included in your gear, and that you’re confident in using them. They may not be on everyone’s turkey hunting checklist, but they should be when you’re doing it yourself.
Be sure to look at your watch or the clock on your phone. If you notice a tom’s arrival or activity on a certain day, chances are he’ll do it again the next day. Make notes of these things.
Don’t overthink it
It’s easy to psyche yourself out when you don’t see immediate success, or at least what you’d expect a turkey to do. Remember, they’re all different, and you shouldn’t try to over-analyze things. Don’t wonder what you’d do if you were a turkey and you heard your calls. Instead, confidently predict what the tom will do, based on what you’ve learned about the area.
And don’t pack the kitchen sink, either. You know you’ll need to be versatile, and the above-mentioned tech gadgets will take up some pocket space, but a couple calls you’re experienced and full camo, head to toe, should be all you need to bring into the turkey woods when you’re doing it yourself.
Bottom line, if you’re well-prepared, a good enough shot, and ready to be flexibly aggressive, you’ll fulfill your turkey hunt as though you had a guide, when you really did it all yourself. Study up, scout like crazy, and be ready to think like a pro.