If spring’s almost here, that means the spring turkey hunt is just around the corner. It's time to brush up on turkey hunting tactics and make sure that you’re prepared for the coming hunt. There are a few common mistakes that turkey hunters, both beginning and experienced, seem to make every season. These can be costly and troublesome mistakes; with the season just about to start, you'll want to make sure you avoid them.
Not Scouting or Knowing Your Terrain
This is likely the most common mistake turkey hunters make, as scouting can often get tedious. If you want to even the playing field, scouting is one of the most important factors in having a successful hunt. You can never know too much about the turkey population or the lay of the land. Ask yourself a few simple questions before you choose your hunting area: Does this area have a preferred food source? Have you found movement patterns and strutting areas? Are there any obstacles such as creeks or fences that could prevent turkeys from being called in? Are there obvious signs that the area has been well-hunted by others? By asking yourself questions such as these and putting in real time to know your preferred hunting area, you'll be able to cross off quite a few pitfalls that turkey hunters experience. Give yourself as much time as you can afford to prepare properly and maximize your hunt.
Calling Too Much, Too Little, & Lacking Variety
Many new turkey hunters have the tendency to call too often. This can sound unnatural in many cases and can lead to you spooking away your gobblers. Playing on the bird's curiosity can often lead to a better shot. It's just like marriage -- sometimes you need to know when to shut up and listen. Though this is a common mistake with new turkey hunters, the opposite is also true: calling too little will also sound unnatural and could spook any potential birds. The last thing you want to do is draw in a tom that is just out of range and not be able to seal the deal. If you're heading out with only one type of call, you'll probably want to have some other options. Most fisherman don't go fishing with just one lure, they bring an entire tackle box full of options. You'll want to have a few options as well, including mouth, slate, and box calls. There isn't any secret pattern to calling turkeys, but if you're just beginning, try using the strategy of playing hard to get. Start out soft and test the waters a little. Give a few tree yelps, maybe a cluck or two and some purrs. If your tom answers, wait about ten minutes before calling again. Repeat the call again to verify that he's still in the same tree. Don't call him too much when he's up there, you want him to come down. When you hear him fly down or his gobble sounds a little more muffled you can make a fly-down cackle, then use a few shot yelps so he knows you're interested. If he bites and gobbles again, you'll know you’ve got his attention.
All Dressed Up with Nothing to Shoot
Let's face it; most of us think that birds are rather oblivious and that a young tom won't be able to distinguish one type of camo from another. Being obsessive about your camouflage is going to get you a lot farther in deceiving these birds. Make sure that every part of you has some sort of camouflage; turkeys are great at picking out lazy hunters who haven't applied face paint or didn't put in the time or effort to properly hide themselves. Also, if you're in a well-hunted area, be sure to have an article of blaze to keep yourself safe, but hide it in your vest once you start calling.
Not Getting Up Early Enough
The early bird might get the worm, but the lazy hunter won’t bag the turkey. You need to have an early start if you want to make this a successful hunt. Calling is most effective at daybreak. Roosts make a lot of noise when they come down out of trees and that usually happens early in the morning. As a bonus, you'll also be more likely to beat any other potential hunters to your preferred hunting area.
Using Too Many Decoys
you're moving from waterfowl hunting to turkey hunting you may be shocked at
how few decoys you really need -- if any at all. If you're used to hauling in
bundles of decoys then you might have a hard time just setting out a few small
decoys. Decoys are great in
the right scenarios and can really add to your hunt. You'll want to set them up
with some sort of obstruction or bend in order to get your gobbler into range.
There are also other reasons to use decoys sparingly. Decoys can add a lot of
weight to your vest; not to mention setting them up can also add time and noise
that may make your hunt all the harder. Set up decoys using the right angles so
that any turkey heading your way won't be scared off.
All in all, if you do your homework and prepare yourself for your hunt, you'll have a good time and hopefully be able to call in a great bird. Give yourself time to scout the area and make sure that you put in the time to practice calls, dress in the proper camo, and make it to the hunting ground early. Following these simple rules will give you the best chance to make your turkey hunt successful.