Pursuing wild turkeys is not only a fun hunt, it can also be one of the most challenging ones you'll ever try. There are many trusted tactics and techniques to help you bring in a tom. We could write for hours on things like turkey sounds and their meaning, camo selection, ground blind construction, and turkey decoy selection. However, today we're keeping things simple and to the point. These quick and easy-to-remember tips will put the odds in your favor for spring turkey season.
If you take any tip away from this list, it should be this one. It may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many hunters don't even bother with proper scouting. You need to get out in the woods and listen. You need to get the lay of the land, and consider what land characteristics will affect or influence turkey movement. Don't just show up and call, but get up early and find where they roost.
2. Roost a bird
Once you consistently find early-morning spring gobblers, start putting them to bed. As your season gets closer, it's even more important to have idea of patterns the turkeys around you are following. When you can roost a bird, you know where to hunt the next morning.
3. Find the hens
Find the hens and you'll find the toms. If you can find where hens are feeding during hunting season, you're right where the toms are going to be strutting.
4. Shock and awe
Use shock gobbles to help you find that sneaky old longbeard. There are a few good ways to shock a tom into gobbling, but my favorite is to slam my truck door. If that doesn't work, see my next tip.
5. Use an Owl Hooter
If you hunt pressured birds or the truck-door trick doesn't work, an owl hooter locator call just might. Buy one and learn how to use it.
6. Less is more
It's really easy for turkey hunters to get caught up in the calling. This is never more true than when you have a responsive tom that gobbles with your every cluck. I've even found myself getting caught up and over-calling. Don't make the same mistake. It's easier said than done, but nothing will drive a tom mad like a hen playing hard to get. Let him think his gobbles fell on deaf ears. This is especially effective if he's already seen your hen decoy.
7. The purr and cluck
Just don't when trying to bring in a tom. This particular sound and call is made only when a hen is mad. If you want to confuse a tom and have them hang up, use this call. Now that I have that out of the way, there is really only one scenario to use this call. If you have a hen you'd like to keep around, this call will make her mad and likely keep her around a little longer.
8. Hens make the best decoys
Similar to the last few tips, you want to know where the hens are located, and you want to keep them around. Pure and simple, toms are looking for hens, so find the hens and a tom will eventually show up.
9. Use a mouth call
It's no secret that turkeys rely on their impeccable sight. Nothing will blow a hunt faster than reaching for a call, or using a call that requires movement. Learn how to properly operate a diaphragm call and keep it in your mouth until that tom is taking a permanent dirt nap.
10. Use more than one call
People buy turkey vests for a reason, and they come with a lot of pockets for a reason. You wouldn't hit the lake with only one lure, so why would you limit yourself to one turkey call? You never know what a tom will respond to.
11. Use the weather
Weather patterns change bird behavior, so pay attention to the forecasts. Snow will slow down breeding behavior, but they still need to eat. Rain will work against a bird's sight, and in my experience, they then seek open fields. Wind will do the opposite, sending them to low, wooded areas. Calm, sunny days will make for the best hunting.
12. Check your pattern
It may seem obvious, but some may need a reminder. Shoot your gun to make sure it's on target. In fact, shoot it several times with different loads. Not all loads will pattern the same with your gun, so test them all. If you are bowhunting, do not forget to practice before you head out!
13. Decoy or Decoys
Based on your hunting location, make sure you're using the right decoy setup. Where turkeys can see a good distance, use more decoys. Don't be afraid to throw out a tom, or even a jake decoy around your hens in strut zones. In thicker cover, stick to the less-is-more mentality.
14. Get aggressive
Don't be too afraid to run and gun. Too many hunters get stuck on sticking to the field edges and never changing positions. If you're within earshot range of a tom, move, get closer and use cover to your advantage.
15. Hunt in the afternoon
Some of the most productive times to hunt can be first thing in the morning or late in the evening. While you should take advantage of those evening and morning hunts, too many neglect another key time. Later in the season, hens will be on the nest and toms will be cruising in the afternoons for receptive hens.
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