Turkey hunting can be some of the most action packed hunting you can have. Being able to vocally interact with wild birds and watch as a big Tom struts into your decoys is something that every hunter should experience. Turkeys can also be unpredictable at times as well and hunting can get slow. Hopefully these tips and tactics will help you be successful and have an action packed spring hunt.
Scouting Spring Turkeys
Scouting is a huge part of how successful you can be while turkey hunting. Turkeys will roost in trees starting at sunset all the way through the night and into the next morning until about sunrise or even longer depending on the weather conditions. A cloudy/foggy or rainy morning will keep the birds held up in the tree longer. A nice clear and sunny morning will have the birds on the ground at early light. A great time to locate the birds is after they fly up to roost in the evening. I personally like to use the Primos owl call. Hit the call three times in the rhythm of an owl. Listen closely and the birds should respond by gobbling. When the birds gobble you start to get a good location on the birds. If you are still unsure of where they exactly are, repeat the process until you have your birds pinpointed.
The Spring Turkey Hunting Set Up
Once you have the birds located the next step is moving in and setting up. Blinds are not a must for turkey hunting but they do help with concealing your movements. Turkeys have extremely good eye-sight so having full 360 covers is a great way to stay hidden. Wherever you located your birds you have to be careful setting up so you don't bump your birds off your property. You want to give yourself a good distance from the roost so you can avoid bumping your birds. You also want to consider your food sources. Turkeys will usually go to feed in fields after they fly down from the roost. I have had my best luck in field edges that butt up to the woods where my birds are roosting. I find this tactic most successful because it gives me the chance to get as close as I can to the birds but not bumping them off my property.
The Spring Turkey Hunt
Getting out before first light is very important when it comes to being a very successful turkey hunter. Take it as something very similar to deer hunting in the morning. Get out about a half hour before sunrise. When walking out to your ground blind you want to be very quiet and if possible try not to even use any lights of any kind. This keeps the birds calm and not on edge. When you make it out to your blind you are going to want to get your decoys out right away. I have a feeder hen, breeder hen, and a three-quarter strut jake. I have had a lot of success with birds coming into the three-quarter strut jake. When I set my decoys up I usually try to keep them under 10 yards away from my blind. Having them close gives the perfect opportunity for the best shot possible. As you sit and wait for first light it is best to wait until you hear that first gobble before you start to call. Once you start to hear the gobbling you then can start to chirp. I personally like to use the slate call. This call gives you many choices of chirps and yelps along with different tones. It is very important that you do not over do your calling while the birds are in the roost. Once the birds have hit the ground you can start to pick your calling. If your birds are still gobbling when they hit the ground you can yelp and listen for a response. If there is no response don’t panic. A lot of the times a turkey will come in very quietly to look where the calling is coming from. They are very curious birds. If you haven't heard any response for the last 5-10 minutes after calling then you can hit the slate a few more times. Once you get a visual of your birds you can stop calling and read the body language of your birds. If they seem aggressive you can still call them but do not overdo your calling. If the birds seem pretty relaxed I have found that it is best to stay quiet and just wait for the birds to bring themselves closer to you on their own instead of trying to call at them.
Turkey hunting is not easy and takes time and patience. The outcome and adrenaline rush makes up for all your dedicated work when you watch your gobbler fold to the ground. Spend some time this spring hunting turkeys and hopefully these tactics will lead you to success.
Leader Bowhunting supplies and bowhunting gear for 35+ years