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9 Tips for a Successful Spring Turkey Hunt

It happens in virtually every hunt camp at some point during the spring turkey season. As you sit down to plan the next day's hunting strategy with the other hunters and guides, you're bound to hear a few bad words. No, not the words that cause mothers to wash their kids' mouths with soap. I'm talking about the real doozies: "100 percent success." "A sure thing." "I know exactly what the birds are doing."

Experienced hunters snicker when they hear such words. They've been there at one time or another, promising to have a bird hanging by the time others arrived back in camp only to be fooled by birds that didn't quite see things the same way. The hunters would return to camp one by one, empty-handed and with a report that they heard nary a peep, let alone a gobble. Wisdom, zipped lips and a humbled approach come with time and by practicing these surefire ways to make your next hunt a success.

  1. Scout the birds.
    Pre-season scouts perform the best during the season. But if hunting with an outfitter and you're unfamiliar with the birds in that area, ask the guide to take you out the night before your first hunt to listen for birds and get a feel for the terrain you'll be hunting.

  2. Know how much to call and when to stop calling.
    Just because you know where the birds are doesn't mean you'll get one. Depending on where you're hunting, know how much calling the birds like and what they'll respond to.

    Once a tom has committed, make him come looking for you. If you keep calling every time he gobbles, and he gets too close, he could pinpoint your location and realize that you're not an actual hen and leave the area.

  3. Be patient.
    Turkeys aren't always going to gobble with every breath. Just because they're not gobbling, doesn't mean they're not coming toward you. Be patient or you could spook a trophy bird by trying to do too much.

  4. Be comfortable.
    Pick out a stump or tree that's taller than your head and wider than your shoulders when you sit down. Make sure you're not sitting on a root, rock or anything else that may affect your shot. A turkey vest with a soft cushion is always recommended.

  5. Know when to move.
    Always stay alert, attuned to the advance of the gobbler by marking his gobbles. Be in a halfway ready position. Have your left shoulder (if you're right handed) pointed toward the turkey, your knees up, your gun propped on the left knee with the butt of the gun pressed against your shoulder. Watch the gobbler's head, and when it's safe, move to the proper shooting position.

  6. Identify your target.
    Make sure you know it's a wild turkey that's coming to your call and not another hunter. The NWTF recommends waiting for the gobbler to get within 40 yards before pulling the trigger.

  7. Aim high.
    Aim for the head and neck area of the bird. Try not to shoot at the body; you don't want to wound the bird and have it run or fly away from you.

  8. Never give up.
    Whether you're hunting in a state with all day hunting privileges or in a state where you can only hunt until 1 p.m., you never know when you are going to strike a hot gobbler on a hunt that takes only a couple of minutes.

  9. Stand by your words.
    Walk out of the woods with a gobbler in tow as you head back to camp to tell the other hunters what they missed.

You're never guaranteed anything until you have the bird over your shoulder as you walk out of the woods. It's why we call it hunting!

—Jonathan Harling




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