It’s not all fun and games. Being an avid sportsman takes work and dedication. While it’s just now becoming nice enough to fish, I’m already stressing about turkey hunting. I’ve been busy spooling up my reels with new line in anticipation of chasing spring crappie and bass. You’d think we’d have a little time to fish during nice weather before we have to worry about hunting again, but here it comes. Turkey season is right around the corner.
Shotgun and Ammunitions
The first order of business is making sure your turkey gun is ready to go. Now, if you’re like me, you treat your gun like a tool not a fine European sports car. I can hear grandpa harping at me still, “Boy, you’d better take care of that shotgun.” And I do, to a point. I’m not what one would call an abusive gun owner, but I probably don’t give my firearms all the attention they deserve. So it’s time to make sure the old shotgun still functions properly.
This begins with a simple check of the mechanics. Does the action still work? Does it cycle properly? Add a little oil here, tighten a screw there. Then take it out back and fire a load at a target. Is it still shooting straight? If your pattern is good, be stingy on the practice rounds. Ammunition is nearly impossible to find right now.
Hopefully, you still have a few shells from last year rattling around in your gear box. There are many different specialized turkey loads on the market available in different load size and shell length. A longer shells usually holds more powder and pellets than shorter ones. Shot sizes of 4, 5 and 6 are all adequate and commonly used. But in today’s market, buy what you can find.
A turkey choke tightens your load of pellets for an extended range, meaning more pellets hit the target down range. When shooting a turkey, aim for the head. A tighter group allows you to shoot turkeys further away. A 40-yard shot is a long one. I caution you not to try shots any further than that.
The older I get, the more I deer hunt in blue jeans or rugged brown pants. You can do this with turkey hunting, but camouflage clothing is much more important when chasing gobblers because they see in color. Turkeys are also very keen at detecting motion. Being covered from head to toe in a camouflage pattern that blends with your surroundings helps you remain undetected. You should also wear a facemask and gloves.
Having a good camouflage rain suit is also important if you are not hunting in a blind. Weather is often unpredictable during spring, so be sure to have a collection of clothes adequate for a wide range of temperatures and conditions. The grass is usually wet with dew in the morning and the smallest of creeks can quickly fill with rushing water, so knee-high rubber boots are the way to go.
Vest or Pack
My turkey vest has seen its better days, but I still wear it. I find the vest the most convenient way of storing, organizing and accessing my gear. There are many models available, from the very basic with a few pockets, to technologically advanced systems with built in hydration packs or back support poles. The right vest for you should have enough pockets to keep all your gear secure, without being too bulky when moving through the woods.
If you are planning to take more along in the turkey woods than the basic necessities, then you can carry a backpack or fanny pack. They’ll hold much more turkey hunting equipment, like a thermos of coffee or good book, than a turkey hunting vest does.
With so many different calls on the market, choosing one style over another can be overwhelming to a beginning turkey hunting. Mouth calls, slate calls, box calls, push button calls, wing bone calls and locator calls all have their place in the grand scheme of turkey calling. When you’re first learning, box calls and push button calls are the easiest to use.
Practice is important before hitting the woods. Even with the simplest call in hand, you still need to produce a realistic sound. Many training tips are available online. There are thousands of videos on YouTube. Nothing compares to learning from the real thing, though. Spend time in the woods just listening for turkeys. Eventually, you’ll hear clucks, putts, cackles, cutts, purrs, yelps, kee kees, gobbles and more. Don’t worry about knowing the difference in the beginning. Work on producing clucks and yelps. These two calls have led to the demise of more gobblers than all the rest combined.
See you down the trail…
Pic: Good camouflage, a few calls and an accurate shotgun are all you need to tackle turkey hunting.