For the avid turkey hunter, there is no season like spring. The layover months of January, February, and part of March have us hankering for woods time without the need for long johns. It’s a fresh start, a new hunting season; these things a newbie will learn in due time.
If this is your first spring chasing ol’ tom, these turkey tips for beginners might help you at least lessen the frustration he can cause. Even the seasoned turkey hunter still experiences the multitude of negative emotions a gobbler can lay on him. So if you take nothing else away from this article, remember that a lot of patience and humility will help you enjoy the sport of turkey hunting for many springs to come.
Calls and Practice
Buy calls. Practice with them. Sounds simple. But let us tell you that there is skill involved in mastering the turkey call. Sure, there are plenty of tutorials to help you become proficient in the various disciplines of diaphragms, slates, and boxes. It’s where and how you practice that’s going to make all the difference.
The sharp yelp of a hen is not appealing to everyone. Practicing at home is taking a real chance that your spouse’s annoyance could diminish your ability to hunt at all. At work is a definite no-no. Turkey hunters make up a small and dedicated community. Those who would appreciate and even encourage your practice efforts typically don’t exist in every day environments.
Here’s the place to practice: your vehicle. Whether you’re driving to work, the grocery store, wherever, this is the time to practice. Keep your calls in your vehicle; don’t even bring them in the house.
The car has two main advantages. The first is there’s nobody there to torture. A turkey call can emit some blood curdling sounds when in the hands or mouth of a beginner. While you’re driving, practice with the diaphragm. While you’re stopped at a light or sitting letting the engine warm, give the box and slate your best effort. The second advantage to practicing in your vehicle is that you can listen to tapes (well, these days podcasts or whatever) on turkey calling. Take advantage of the resources at your disposal to work toward mastering the art of speaking the love language that ol’ tom likes to hear.
Match Up Camo
This one is pretty simple. Don’t hunt the hardwoods wearing BreakUp bottoms and a Shadow Grass top. There may be situations that call for a mix up though very rarely. You wouldn’t believe how well a turkey can see. Do your absolute best to blend into your surroundings with matching pants, tops, gloves, and facemask.
Hunt the Shadows/Sun at Your Back
This sort of falls into line with the last point. Hunt the shadows and have the sun at your back when possible to increase your concealment. If the sun is shining right on you, no matter how good your camo looks to you, you’ll likely stick out like a sore thumb to the eyes of an already wary gobbler. Find a well shaded tree that breaks up your silhouette and puts the sun in the path of his approach.
Learn Patience & Humility
Good grief we can’t stress these traits enough. Nine times out of ten a gobbler is not going to cooperate the way he should. He might be coming on a rope to your setup only to stop 80 yards away without another bit of budge. You may slip close to a roost tree in the predawn darkness only to have every turkey pitch down in the other direction. A gobbler might slip into your set up not having made a sound the entire time and you spook him before getting off a shot. You’re going to miss. The list goes on.
The competitive nature that’s instilled in many of us makes patience and humility hard to overcome. Just know that when you’re fooled by turkeys again and again, you’re not alone. It doesn’t matter if you have 30 springs or three under your belt, you’re going to lose more times than not. Keeping that in the back of your head will help you laugh off a bad hunt because, if we’re being honest, time in the woods is better than a lot of other things regardless if you’ve killed a turkey.
Learn to Like Coffee
We should probably throw gas station snacks in there as well. Learn to like coffee because turkey hunting requires a lot of early mornings. Consider investing in a Yeti coffee mug that keeps liquids warm for long periods of time. The combination of hot coffee and gas station doughnuts will help you forget any mishaps the morning produced as well as provide fuel to keep going.
Enjoy the Lessons
Enjoy the lessons. Learn from them. Take your time. Turkey hunting is tough. But when it all comes together, it is so rewarding.
These turkey tips for beginners can also serve as a reminder to the veterans. We often have to slow ourselves down in order to see the forest for the trees. Because, unless you’re traveling, the season doesn’t last long. And that’s ever more the reason to appreciate the little things that only spring can offer.