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When autumn rolls around, a favorite activity of hunters is going after a few gobblers. If you really want to enjoy the season, following a few basic tips and tricks can greatly increase your chances of success.
If you want a successful turkey hunt, follow as many of these recommendations as possible. Remember, it’s all about staying the course and outwitting a tom!
Too many turkey hunters lose a bird because they don’t stay still long enough when they start calling, or they start calling too often once they pick a spot. They want a bird and they want it now.
Getting a gobbler is all about playing the long game, which means staying patient even when the pressure ramps up.
You can be too late to a turkey hunt, but you can’t be too early. Once you have the perfect spot staked out, arrive there early. If you think that you should be there at 4 in the morning, get there at 3. It can be the difference between a successful and quick hunt in the morning and a long unsuccessful one that takes the entire day.
Sometimes all your favorite calls just aren’t working. You shouldn’t be afraid to mix things up, and the only way you can do that is if you have multiple calls with you. Have at least one backup call in case your primary isn’t working.
When you’re hunting for a tom, you need to make him think that he’s working for the hen. Once he gets close, let him gobble twice before calling back. Ideally, he already knows where you are, and you don’t have to call again at all.
But by working him up, you’re lowering his guard a bit, making it more likely that he’ll think that you’re a real hen and not a hunter.
The closer that you can get to the gobbler without having to call them in, the higher your chance of success. Get as close as you can without the gobbler seeing you, set up, and then make your call. The smaller the distance the gobbler has to travel, the more likely that you’ll bag him.
Using the right noise is important, but turkeys are well-tuned to the cadence behind a call. Getting the cadence right is the only way to fool a tom into thinking that you’re a hen. Listen for a while to the natural cadence of calls, and then match them as close as you can.
There’s a great deal of noise out there about getting the fanciest decoys possible. There are decoys that make noise, move, and do all sorts of stuff. Skip all of it — instead, focus on setting it up in the right location.
You need to put it where the gobbler will pass you to get to the decoy. That way, you can take a shot just 10 to 15 yards out. Don’t worry about all the extra features; just focus on getting the location right for a successful hunt.
The tom won’t come if he can’t hear your calls, and one of the best ways to increase your chances that he hears the call is to funnel the noise toward them. Hold your call away from your body, and point it toward the area with the tom.
This enables the noise to travel farther and greatly increases the chances that he’ll come running in response.
One of the most important tools in your turkey-hunting tool belt is a pair of 10x binoculars. Turkeys can see farther through the vegetation than you can, so giving yourself a pair of binoculars helps even things out for you.
They’re not that expensive and can be the difference between getting a gobbler and wasting your time for a few days in the woods.
If you can identify turkey tracks and droppings, it’s easier to find out where they’re at. Gobblers have a middle toe print that’s about 2.5 inches long, and their droppings are large with a fishhook appearance and a splash of white.
If you’re looking for a great place to set up, look for a curve in a road. Toms love heading right out the curve so they can look both ways for the hen. It also puts them in plain sight for a shot, making it the perfect location to stake out.
A common rookie mistake is calling more often than you need to. While calling is a way to bring in a turkey, it also increases the chance that a tom will spot you. If they see you making the calls, they’re gone. So, call only as much as you need to, so the tom is hunting for the hen and isn’t able to spot you.
Sometimes all you need to do to get a tom is to attract the hen. If your gobbler has a bossy female following him around, mock all her calls when she does them. This will attract her, and where she goes, the tom will follow. So, mock the hen and bring in the tom!
The last thing that you want to do when you have a tom in your sights is to have to reposition and scare him off. If you hear him coming up from a certain direction, slide that way, raise your shotgun, and get ready. That way, when he’s in range, you don’t have to move much to make your shot.
It probably goes without saying, but you only get one chance to get your gobbler. If you miss, he’s going to fly off, and he’s not coming back. Ensure that when you pull the trigger, you’re getting your gobbler; otherwise, you might as well head home and try again somewhere else the next day.
When you head out in the morning, you want to bring home a turkey. Hopefully, now that you know a few basic tips and tricks, you can bring home a tom the next time that you head out and enjoy turkey legs for dinner!
Featured Image Credit: Beau Leyse, Shutterstock
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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