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Turkey hunting can be an exciting and rewarding outdoor activity, but it takes knowledge and skill to successfully hunt and take a turkey.
In this guide for seasoned hunters and new hunters alike, find out what you need to know to make your next hunt a successful one.
We cover everything including how to set up your gear, when and where to go turkey hunting, and how to effectively use turkey calls.
Turkey hunting is a wicked fun experience that every avid hunter should try. The adrenaline rush of hearing a gobble in the distance, then calling the bird closer to you with the perfect cadence and tone, is unmatched.
The challenge of outsmarting a wild turkey with keen senses and a sharp mind is what makes turkey hunting so addictive.
The beautiful sights and sounds of nature during the spring season only add to the experience.
From the moment you step into the woods until the time you bag your trophy bird, turkey hunting is a thrilling adventure that will leave you wanting more.
Turkey Biology and Behavior
Before you start turkey hunting, it is important to understand the biology and behavior of wild turkeys. Take some time to do research on the habits of turkeys in your area before your hunt.
Become familiar with the types of foods turkeys eat, how far they might range from their roosting areas, and when their mating season is so you know when they will be most active.
This knowledge can significantly increase your chances for success and a big reward.
What Do Wild Turkeys Eat?
Turkeys are opportunistic eaters, meaning they will consume a wide variety of items. This includes leaves, grasses, seeds, berries, insects, worms, snails, frogs and even small reptiles.
Thanks to this ability to be adaptable in their diet, wild turkeys can survive in many different kinds of natural habitats. So you’ll need to know your area and scout out where turkeys are feeding.
How Far Do Turkeys Travel In A Day?
Wild turkeys can cover up to 3 miles in a single day as they forage for food or look for new roosting spots.
However, the exact distance traveled will vary depending on the terrain, availability of food and water, and threats from predators. Before setting out hunting for turkeys, be sure to consider their potential sources of food and shelter.
Turkey Hunting Gear and Equipment
Every turkey hunter needs reliable gear and equipment that is tailored to the conditions. This includes gear for protection from the elements, such as waterproof rainwear and hunting boots.
Other important items are the right type of decoys and turkey calls, a shotgun, a camouflage pattern that matches your chosen habitat, and a comfortable blind from which to observe the flock.
Having everything you need will ensure that you’re comfortable while you wait for your prey.
Here is a list of common turkey hunting equipment you may want to consider.
- Turkey Calls: (see below also) These are used to attract turkeys by mimicking the sounds they make, such as clucks, purrs, and gobbles.
- Turkey Decoys: These are lifelike replicas of turkeys that are used to trick them into coming closer to the hunter.
- Shotguns: A shotgun is the most common weapon used for turkey hunting, with 12 or 20 gauge being the most popular choices.
- Camouflage Clothing: Turkeys have excellent eyesight and can easily spot hunters who are not well concealed. Camouflage clothing helps hunters blend into their surroundings.
- Hunting Vest: A vest is a convenient way to carry all of the necessary turkey hunting gear, including calls, ammunition, and other accessories.
- Turkey Choke Tubes: These are specialized attachments for shotguns that improve accuracy and range.
- Binoculars: Binoculars help hunters spot turkeys from a distance and plan their approach.
- Hunting Boots: Comfortable, waterproof hunting boots are essential for navigating the terrain and staying warm and dry.
- Face Mask: Turkeys are wary of human faces, so a mask helps hunters stay concealed and avoid spooking the birds.
- Turkey Hunting Chair: A comfortable hunting chair or stool is a must-have for long days in the field, as it allows hunters to sit still and remain comfortable while waiting for their prey.
Turkey Calls & Decoys
Different types of turkey calls and decoys can be used to lure turkeys in. Knowing when and how to use the right call or decoy is key, as there are many different types with different purposes.
While there is a lot of personal preference and trial and error involved, here are some of our recommendations.
Turkey calls can be divided into three main types: Friction Calls (e.g. Push-Button, Box, and Slate), Diaphragm/Mouth Calls, and Locator Calls.
For novice hunters, it is best to start with a box call or pot call before progressing onto the more challenging diaphragm/mouth call.
Turkey diaphragm calls are difficult to use, but when mastered can produce some of the most realistic and desirable turkey calling sounds. Pheasants are also hunted with calls in much the same way.
Calling is an essential hunting skill that you can use on various game. Learning how to call is just one of our top 5 hunting skills to master.
Turkey Hunting Scents
We’re going to mention this briefly because there’s a lot of question around turkey hunting scents. Basically speaking, turkeys sense of smell is not good. You’re far better off focusing on calls and blinds. Just don’t wear heavy scented colognes or perfumes and you’ll be fine.
Turkey Hunting Decoys
Finally, decoys are popular for attracting turkeys from afar and providing an easy shot.
A good way to increase your chances of bringing home a turkey is using decoys. Turkey decoys are very effective, especially when using a combination of a hen and a jake decoy.
The sight of a young male jake attending to one of the tom’s hens can often draw out an aggressive response from the dominant tom.
Furthermore, subordinate turkeys will not feel as threatened by the presence of these decoys, thus opening up even more opportunities for the turkey hunter looking for both success and a trophy turkey!
Best Turkey Hunting Location
When hunting turkeys, it’s important to do your research and locate the best areas that have features like open fields, facing patches of woods, or bodies of water where turkeys might like to roost.
Scouting trips prior to the hunt will allow you to watch for feeding patterns and find ideal ambush points.
Trying different times of day for hunting may result in more success than just sticking with one timeframe. Don’t be afraid to explore new locations if you need a different approach!
Best Time to Hunt Turkey
Spring is the ideal season to go turkey hunting, as male turkeys start strutting around and showing off to attract female turkeys.
Most states have a prime turkey season in April or May, though some (such as Florida) may start as early as March. Know when your turkey hunting season is and get the proper license for your hunt by checking with your local wildlife management department.
Early mornings are generally the best time for turkey hunting, since this is when the birds typically come out of their roosts and start looking for food.
So get up early and head out to your blind—you just might hear the yelps, cackles, and gobbles of turkeys nearby!
Where to Shoot a Turkey
When shooting a turkey, it is important to know where to aim. The most effective shot while hunting with guns is to the head and neck.
As for bow hunting, the preferred angle is aiming for the area between the beard and the base of the neck if the turkey is facing you, or the broadside of the bird, targeting the heart or lungs.
When shooting at a turkey, the ideal distance is usually between 20 and 40 yards.
At a range of 20 yards, there is just enough time for the pellets from your shotgun to open up and hit its target effectively.
Anything past 40 yards and your chance of hitting the head and neck area are less likely.
Hunting Turkeys in the Rain
Hunting turkeys in the rain brings its fair share of challenges and rewards. On one hand, the sound of rain hitting the leaves and ground can easily mask any sounds made by the birds, making it difficult to hear them.
Furthermore, wet weather can make it harder to move around without being detected due to slippery conditions.
Conversely, rainy weather may work in a hunter’s favor, as turkeys are likely to be out in the open and easier to spot while foraging for food. Additionally, rainfall has the benefit of muffling any noise made by hunters while they approach their target.
Although hunting turkeys in the rain can present unique and difficult challenges, but many hunters still enjoy this type of hunting as it is a memorable experience.
The beauty of the rain-soaked landscape creates an atmosphere unlike any other.
Those who are up to the challenge will be rewarded with a satisfying experience that tests their skills and determination.
For those brave enough for the adventure, hunting turkeys in the rain can be an enjoyable activity.
Hunting Turkey In The Wind
Hunting turkey in the wind can be tricky, but with a bit of extra effort, it’s possible to turn the disadvantage into an advantage.
The sound of the wind can help mask any noises made by hunters, making it easier to approach turkeys unnoticed.
Turkeys may also be more active when searching for shelter from the elements. To make the most of hunting in windy conditions, hunters should position themselves downwind from the turkey, use a wind resistant call and wear quiet and scent eliminating clothing.
With these strategies in place, a hunter can find success and excitement while hunting turkey in the wind!
Turkey Hunting: Final Thoughts
In conclusion, turkey hunting is a sport that can bring great joy and satisfaction to anyone who takes the time to properly learn and prepare.
Knowing the habits of turkeys, selecting the right equipment, and learning how to call and use decoys will increase your chances of success.
Ultimately, the experience is what you make it – whether in rainy or clear weather, with a bow or a shotgun – a successful hunt will yield an unforgettable memory.
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