Have you recently found a love for turkey hunting and are looking to improve your skills? This comprehensive guide provides you with 10 of the best turkey hunting tips for beginners. From the best attire for the sport to some of the legalities surrounding it, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful turkey hunter in no time.
Understanding Turkey Behavior
Wild turkeys predominantly roost in trees as a defense against predators. Their roosting time is typically in the morning, so it’s a good idea to start your hunt early.
Between midday and the early afternoon, wild turkeys usually start foraging around loafing areas. They seek out shady spots directly adjacent to feeding areas, so if you plan on a hunt during these hours, it’s a good idea to head for ridgetop forests and fields.
Turkeys have excellent hearing and can detect calls from other turkeys up to 400 yards away. Learning a call or investing in a caller can increase your chances of drawing in these birds.
10 Essential Tips For Beginners
If you’re ready to increase your technique and ability, take note of these 10 essential tips for turkey hunting beginners.
Obtain a Hunting License
Obtaining a hunting license is the most critical aspect of conducting a safe and legal hunt. The regulations in every state are different, which means you can’t use the same license in multiple areas. If you plan on going hunting in numerous states, you may need to obtain a separate license that adheres to the legalities of that specific location.
To find out the different requirements of each state, you can visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website. Simply select the state you plan to visit to find out the type of license required to hunt.
Purchase a Choke Tube
Shotguns, bows, and muzzleloaders are the most common weapon choices in most states. Many professional turkey hunters opt to take a choke with them, as they allow your gun to keep your shot pattern tight. You can purchase choke tubes that are specifically designed for turkey hunting. Modern chokes typically have a 12 and 20 gauge.
Pattern Your Shotgun
Patterning your shotgun is an integral part of turkey hunting. You’ll first need to determine if your shotgun has interchangeable choke tubes. If it does, you’ll have the advantage because you can use a full choke to ensure your shot pattern is dense.
This dense shot pattern allows you to take longer shots, increasing your chances of bagging a Tom by permitting you to shoot in diverse and long-range locations. If you don’t have a full turkey choke, you will need to shoot from closer proximity, limiting the number of birds likely to come into range.
Wear Camouflage Attire
Having camouflage attire enables you to conceal yourself from turkeys, giving you more time to prepare your shots. Adapt your camouflage clothing to the terrain you are going hunting in. Your gear should resemble the low underbrush common to the turkey’s habitat.
Choose camouflage pants, caps, coats, and vests; anything that covers your entire body and disguises you from the turkeys. You can even purchase face coverings to conceal you from your prey.
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Camouflage Your Weapon
Besides having camouflage attire, your weapon needs to be disguised, or you could give your cover away. If you haven’t yet purchased a weapon, ensure it is a matte finish. If you already have a gun, you can purchase camouflage tape that wraps around the weapon to conceal shiny surfaces.
Use a Turkey Caller
Many beginner turkey hunters are not confident when it comes to calling. If you know you haven’t mastered a natural turkey call, callers are great alternatives. You can purchase manual or electric ones and choose between different calling sounds, including box, mouth, slate, locator, and diaphragm calls.
Set Up Turkey Decoys
Turkey decoys are great pieces of hunting equipment. Not only do they attract turkeys into your vicinity, but they also distract the birds from your presence. This gives you more time to prepare your shot.
Turkey decoys come in three main models, the hen, jake, and tom. Jakes represent younger male turkeys, hens represent female turkeys, and toms imitate adult male turkeys.
When hunting with decoys, ensure you position them up to 25 yards away from your hunting blind. Setting them up further away could compromise your potential catch, as the turkey will be out of range. For an ethical hunt, you will want to shoot the turkey from up to 15 yards away, which is why the placement of decoys is so important.
There are four placements that turkey decoys are usually placed in. These are walking, strutting, feeding, or mating.
Hunt Multiple Turkey Spots
Finding a handful of turkey roosts before the season starts is excellent preparation for hunting. It allows you to hunt multiple areas during the first week of the season, giving you a head start and increasing your chances of success.
Spend All Day Hunting
Persevere and dedicate an entire day to hunting. While the morning success may have worn off, many other hunters may decide to call it a day, and you might feel the same way, too. By being persistent, patient, and spending time in a location that turkeys frequent regularly, chances are, you’ll make another spot and another catch.
Place a Hunting Blind in Advance
Hunting blinds are necessary for concealment and comfort; they’re ideal for beginners who are unable to sit still for the prolonged periods needed for a turkey to approach. There are several blinds types suitable for turkey hunting, from ground blinds to mirrored models.
The best blind should give you a 360° vantage point, windows, and slots for easy shooting and have a camouflage pattern that blends in with the underbrush. Ensure that you set up your blind in advance of your trip and brush it using local flora. This ensures that the presence of the blind does not spook the birds.
Improve Your Turkey Hunting Skills
From ensuring you have all the equipment needed for a successful and safe hunt to understanding the best times and location to go hunting, you’ll be able to advance from a beginner to a more advanced hunter in no time. Apply these turkey hunting tips and embark on a confident, legal, and most importantly, enjoyable hunt.
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