Gobble Gobble Bang Bang
Spring turkey hunting is upon us and those gobblers will be hitting the fields hard as the snow melts. I’m sure many of my followers are already avid turkey hunters but in case you’re not or are just looking for a little extra advice, I’ll share my spring turkey hunting tips with you here.
I’ve been bagging turkeys since I was 7 years old and it still remains one of my favorite animals to hunt (up there with Elk). Now the spring turkey hunting tips I share with you here may be more tailored toward those hunting in the Eastern portion of the country since that’s where I’ve done the majority of my turkey hunting however many elements of this advice can be carried over into other portions of the country.
Spring Turkey Hunting Tips
Find the Birds
I’ve done woods hunting for birds in the past but when possible I always try to avoid it due to all the brush usually in the way which can deflect my shot. A few weeks before the season opens up start going out and scouting for the flock.
I usually start with the fields. Anywhere I know there was previously a corn crop is my starting point. Drive around looking for open fields to see if any turkeys are seen in them. Morning is usually the best time to do this since as the day goes on they tend to move back into the woods.
Turkey are creatures of habit, if you see a flock heading into a field in the morning chances are you’ll see them in the same place and same time the following day, assuming nothing has spooked them off.
If you can’t get out in the morning do your field scouting at dusk, this is when you’ll catch them before they head up to roost for the night. For those who are new to turkey hunting; every night turkey will fly up into the trees to ‘roost’, this is where they sleep until the following morning. Most times they roost in the same place every night.
While scouting for birds you can do a few calls to try and locate them. I’d get out before sunrise to a place where I think they may be and throw out a few hen calls mixed with gobbles. Usually if any Toms (mature male turkey) are close they’ll gobble back, you can then move toward them while continuously calling to locate them. I do this from the road because remember you don’t want to get too close and spook them, you just need to know where they are for opening day.
Get The Right Gear for The Hunt
Turkey have exceptional eyesight and unlike deer, turkey can see color. So wearing that orange camo that you may usually wear for deer hunting isn’t recommended unless it’s a state law to do so. I’m going to run through the checklist of what you’ll need as well as link you out to the exact gear I use.
- Camo – Spring turkey hunting is usually a warmer time of year so no need for the heavy gear you use during deer season. For this I’d say any woodland/brush pattern camo would work as long as you wear it over your HECS camo. The HECS camo will hide you electromagnetic pulses from the birds making you almost invisible. If you want to see how close you can get to turkey while wearing a HECS hunting suit see my post here.
- Turkey Call – It’s up to you as to what type of call you use (reed, slate, or box). If you do use a box call try using the Primos 271 Super Freak Strap-On. It’s great because you only need one hand to use it. Strap it to your leg and you’re good to go.
- Gun – I don’t think I need to remind you to bring this one, but you do want to check to make sure you’ve got the proper choke in the gun. It’s easy to forget which choke you have in when you use the shotgun for multiple hunts. I use a Remington SP10 which I love, some think it’s overkill but I like knowing when I hit em, they stay down.
- Turkey Blind – This is up to you on whether you want to use one or not, I do since it gives me the flexibility to move around more without being seen. I’ve been using the Ameristep Deluxe blind since it’s lightweight, easy to pop up, and can fit two.
- Decoy – Get two, most only bring a hen decoy and don’t realize that a decoy of an immature Jake can get a Tom just as wound up as seeing a hen. Tom turkeys get very protective of their hens and if they see a small, less-dominant looking male, they’ll go after him. For my hen decoy I just use a basic foam decoy but for the male I use the Mojo Decoys Shake N Jake Decoy. I love this decoy because you can operate the tail feathers via a remote control to simulate a real bird instead of it looking stiff and lifeless.
Prepping a Location
Once you know where you’re going to hunt scan the area for the best setup position. If field hunting you want to be right alongside the field. I usually try to find a spot where the tree line dips back in a bit or isn’t as thick so that I can be setup within the woods yet have complete view and range of the field.
If you’re using a turkey blind (which I usually do) it helps to set it up a few days before the season starts (here’s the blind I use). This will help the birds get used to seeing this new object in their normal hangout. Unfortunately when you do this there is always the risk of theft if you are hunting on public land or a place with high hunter volume.
In most states it’s illegal to bait during the season or around it. If by chance it is legal in your state it’s a good idea to throw some corn out a week or so before opening day in front of the spot you plan to setup. This keeps them coming to that same location. Make sure you check to see if it’s legal in your state first though, very important!
My ‘Night Before’ Spring Turkey Hunting Tips
- Once you’ve found where a Tom is roosting, the night before go to the location and watch him until he roosts. Make sure that you see them fly up into the trees so you know where to setup.
- Practice your calling (which you should have been practicing for a while) to make sure you don’t get out there and sound like a dying rabbit instead of an interested hen.
- Double check to make sure you have the right choke in your gun and the right loads in your pockets. If you use the same clothing you use for buck hunting and you hunt with 00 buck shot you don’t want to get out there, reach into your pocket and load up some slugs or buck shot for turkey. Organize your shells and separate them.
- Set the alarm! Don’t roll into the woods 15 minutes before sunrise because chances are you’ll spook the birds off the roost. I get into the woods an hour before sunrise. You may think that’s too early but that gives time for the birds to calm down if you were a little loud walking in.
- License. License. License. I unfortunately on multiple occasions have gotten out in the woods only to realize I left my wallet with my license and tag in my other pants or in the truck. This will end your hunt immediately unless you can rush like heck to grab it an get back out before sunrise.
In The Field
My spring turkey hunting tips all lead up to this moment. The moment when the sun is coming up, the birds are talking and you hear the whiffle of them flying down off the roost.
When you sit down move your gun from left to right to make sure nothing is obstructing your field of movement and view, you want to be able to have a wide range of killshot.
Make sure you’re decoys are set up and you’ve tested the Mojo Shake N Jake Decoy to make sure the tail feathers are moving properly. Do a little hen call right before sunrise while they are still in the roost. This will get their attention and help you confirm their location.
When they fly down, don’t rush them and hit the call every 5 seconds, you can’t be too anxious. Once the Tom is on the ground mix up your calls between the hen and the gobble. If that’s not getting his attention then start moving those tail feathers on that decoy, this should bring him in for the perfect shot!
I’m sure you all have your own tricks up your sleeves for bagging a nice bird and to be honest the same thing won’t work 100% of the time. Each bird is different so you need to switch it up a bit. If my spring turkey hunting tips here aren’t for you don’t be afraid to do your own thing. That’s the great thing about hunting, you have a large say in the success of the hunt based on your gear, the conditions, your techniques, and sometimes plain luck!
I hope my spring turkey hunting tips here will help you bag a nice gobbler and if they do stop over to our Facebook page and share the photo.