Whether you’re a novice turkey hunter, preparing for your first-ever hunt, or an expert preparing for the first hunt of the season, you want to make sure you’re prepared with these turkey hunting tips.
After all, if you want to increase the likelihood of your turkey hunting success, you have to know how to outsmart these intelligent wild animals.
While you may have your own techniques and basic tactics that you generally use, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on some turkey hunting tips to ensure this season is a successful one.
21 Turkey Hunting Tips
1. Know the Science Behind the Gobble
The first of our turkey hunting tips is to know the science behind the gobble. Wild turkeys make up to 30 different sounds, yet most hunters don’t use the bulk of them to lure them in. They generally stick to common sounds such as the gobble, cluck, and plain yelp.
With that said, it’s important to know what sounds the species, subspecies, and/or sex you’re going after makes in order to properly identify them when out in the field. For instance, all adult male turkeys gobble and all-female hens cluck and yelp.
However, each turkey has a sound of its own, so it’s a great idea to become familiar with all the different turkey sounds. Not only will this allow you to identify a turkey in real time, but you’ll also be able to mimic them to attract them to you.
2. Getting Geared Up for the Hunt
Wild turkeys have eyesight that is impeccable, so anything you can do to be able to conceal your movement is going to be helpful.
Having the proper camo pattern for the terrain you are hunting is essential to your success. You should always keep your hands, neck, and face covered because if turkeys can spot even the slightest movement you could spook a big tom.
In most terrains you will need the basic gear along with your choice of a shotgun, muzzleloader or bow. Both 12 and 20 gauge do a pretty good job of taking down a turkey.
Most hunters prefer to use a choke with their hunting guns to keep a tight pattern on your shot. You can also find turkey choke tubes that are specifically designed for turkey hunting.
If you would prefer using a bow, just make sure it is something you are comfortable shooting from a seated position because most turkey hunts happen from the ground. Hunting with a bow does have some logistical issues because room is at a premium for drawing back your bow.
You should always sit in the blind and practice drawing back your bow prior to your hunt. If you are struggling to comfortably sit and draw back your bow, you need to reduce your draw weight because having too much weight could not only be awkward for hunting, but it could also cause injury and potentially create safety issues which could really put a damper on the hunt.
3. Learn the Best Techniques from A Pro
Easily one of the best turkey hunting tips and general survival tips, learn from a pro. If you’ve never hunted wild turkeys before, it would be wise to find a turkey hunting mentor, or at least someone more knowledgeable than yourself, to take you under their wing (no pun intended) and show you the ropes.
There are companies out there that offer programs for new hunters, or you could always take to social media and find different local groups dedicated to turkey hunting. When it comes down to it, you want to feel as comfortable and confident as possible for your first hunt. The right mentor can show you the proper techniques to use and what gear you’ll need to get the job done properly.
Spend time getting used to the territory before turkey season begins by scouting the area. Bring along binoculars with you so you can make positive identifications.
Scouting and patterning is where you can really increase your consistency and success rate. Why? Because turkeys tend to be out and visible at dawn, midmorning and evenings before turkey season even begins.
You will see dominant toms strutting in full view, hoping to catch the attention of a hen, which is something to take advantage of. Spending a few days, or even a few weeks, before the hunting season starts so you can get a good idea of where the birds are and how many hens each tom has with them.
A pro tip to remember is that the fewer the hens there are, the more likely you’ll be able to draw the tom away from them with your call.
If a tom is left unpressured, they tend to frequent the same areas about the same amount of times each day, depending on the weather and other factors.
If you can figure out the pattern, you should set up shop in an area where you can arrange an ambush spot and when the time is right, call softly. You want to get to know the time the bird will come around that location so you can be certain to get there first.
6. Be Easy on The Box Call
Next on our turkey hunting tips is to be easy on the box call. You don’t want to scout and pattern your bird to find the perfect spot and then ruin everything by cranking your box call all morning.
This is one way to ruin your chances before you even get started because the repeated loud screams of the box call will alert the bird that something is different today than it has been previous days and they might change their pattern.
Along with scouting and patterning, roosting is also one of the most important preparations for your hunt.
Glassing up fields or driving roads that turkeys frequent can help you spot birds about one hour before sunset. This is the time of night when birds are ready to go to sleep for the night and head straight to a specific spot they have in mind.
If you can find a general area where they are sleeping, you will know the area too. Keep a lookout for them in the morning to start scouting and patterning a few days before hunting season.
8. Find the Hens to Find the Toms
When prepping for hunting, another tip that can be useful is to find the hens. If you can find where the hens are, it won’t be long before you find out where the toms are headed as well.
If you can find where the hens are feeding, you should see the toms coming to strut their stuff very soon. Be patient and wait it out as quiet as you can to not alert the birds of your presence.
When it comes to decoys, there are many options out there these days with fancy gadgets and sounds, but they aren’t really necessary.
Although these are cool and fancy, you are just as likely to kill a bird using your same old beat up decoy or even no decoy at all. More importantly than how fancy of a decoy you have, is knowing when or not to use it.
If the spring foliage increases your visibility, you might not want to use a decoy. The trick at this point is if you see or hear a bird nearby, stay still. If you need to attract him closer, gently scratch at the leaves or purr softly and he will come looking for what he thinks is a hen. That is when you get your opportunity to take your shot.
Regardless of the type of decoy you have, there are ways to use any decoy to your advantage. One common way is to set up a decoy at the edge of the field so if by 10:00 am he hasn’t shown up, use the decoy to your advantage.
Softly purr and cluck as if your tom and hen are content where they are, you might entice the tom to come back and check it out. If you are able to execute this successfully, make the shot count as he comes closer to attempt to steal the hen or beat up your jake.
10. Play it Safe at First
Because a turkey has the ability to see five times farther than you can, only move when you absolutely know it is the right time.
If you spot a gobbler, keep still and be quiet. Try to work with him from wherever he is but be patient. You don’t want to start out too aggressively and risk losing him.
Although it is exciting, especially if it is your first time, stay calm and be still until you can lure him to the perfect spot where you can take your shot.
11. Know When to Step Your Game Up
While you always want to start out quietly and calmly as to not alert the gobbler that you are there, don’t be afraid to switch it up a little if your first call isn’t sparking his attention.
When he does start to gobble, try slowly starting to cut him off when he gobbles, and you’ll find they respond much better and you will be on your way to victory in no time.
12. Shock Them into Gobbling
You could also use shock gobbles to help you find toms and there are a few ways you could do this. Some people simply use the slam of their truck door and others use an owl hooter.
If you want to try using an owl hooter, buy one and get familiar with it before you do so you don’t mess it up.
13. Know When Enough is Enough
A common mistake hunter’s make is getting caught up in the process and over-calling, especially when you have a responsive tom. If you have a tom gobbling at your every cluck, don’t drag it out.
There’s nothing they hate more than a hen trying to play hard to get, so don’t let him on to how eager you are by making your calls too frequent. Let him think his gobbles aren’t luring the hen in a little bit to make him work a little harder to get right where you need him to be.
14. Find the Lone Gobbler
If you want the head of the pack, find the tom who hangs off by himself. This is most common early in the spring and usually means he either doesn’t want to fight or doesn’t have to.
He’s most likely the OG gobbler who is just breeding to stay alive and doesn’t care too much for the flocking anymore.
These are the most predictable birds because they often stay with the same routines and travel the same areas. If you can narrow down his pattern and not get too aggressive, you are likely to kill the biggest turkey of your life.
15. Don’t Be Afraid to Switch It Up
If you can’t see to peek a gobbler’s interest and you’ve been working with him for a while, it’s time to switch it up.
You can either switch calls, stay quiet, or move on to a different position. Switching it up has the tendency to catch their attention and start becoming more interested. Once he breaks, he’ll start heading into the perfect position for you to take a shot.
16. Don’t Call Blindly
Sometimes it could take a while to spot a bird, but you should always find a good tree or brush pile nearby so you can quickly get in position when you hear one sound off.
He can come into view in no time and you want to be prepared for where you are going to take your shot before you start calling.
If you don’t you will run the risk of losing him very quickly when you are spotted, especially in the early season when the woods don’t provide as much coverage.
17. Always Come Prepared
Everyone has their favorite one or two calls that they tend to use, but don’t limit yourself.
‘Just because you haven’t had much success with the others or don’t particularly like them for whatever reason, dont limit yourself to just two.
You should always strap one or two extras to your vest for when all else fails. Stick to the ones you like best and are most comfortable with, but when you have a day that nothing seems to be working and your trusty calls are not luring in the gobblers, at least you have another option to switch it up and try something new before you lose him completely.
18. Try Out Your Own Gobbler
Until flocks are fully disbursed and they’ve worked out any dominance issues, try using a gobble tube or shaker call to catch the attention of early-spring toms.
At this time in the season, sounding like another tom can be your best bet at attracting the attention of a difficult bird. Just be sure you are extremely cautious sounding like a tom during open season.
19. Don’t Run Off When They Do
Just because a turkey may have started to shy away, doesn’t mean he won’t return. If a gobbler spots something that seems out of place or they start to get suspicious, it doesn’t mean you can’t reel them back in.
It’s okay to let him walk off and give him a few minutes while you prepare to work him from a different angle and try to get him interested again. Try a different location or a different call you haven’t used on him yet.
However, using the same call can sometimes be just as effective from a different location. If he seemed like he was interested in a call he heard before the mishap, and then he hears the same one from a different location, it might be just what you needed to do to have him thinking he found the one that got away.
20. Keep Your Eyes on the Leader of the Pack
Early in the season it is most common for groups of gobblers to be running together. It is most important to pay attention to the leader of the pack.
This is the bird that dictates what the other birds are going to do, including responding to calls and running off. It is especially important when you have this scenario in front of you to be as quiet as possible and avoid being spotted.
Once he’s alerted and suspicious, you’ll go from a whole flock to nothing at all in no time.
21. Lure Them in With the Wing
Last but not least of our turkey hunting tips is to lure them in with the wing. The wing of a gobbler is probably one of the most effective and easy-to-learn tools to tuck in your vest.
If you are looking to stir them up and create a fight, smacking the wing against your pants leg and on the ground while making fighting purrs and gobbles on a tube call is the perfect way to do it.
So, keep handy the wing of a gobbler you killed the year before or a hen you killed from the fall because nothing is more effective or realistic sounding than the real thing.
Hope You Enjoyed These Turkey Hunting Tips
We hope you’ve enjoyed these turkey hunting tips and hopefully learned something. Yes, they are pretty basic, but we all need to start with the basics. Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below.