Turkey Hunting Tips When setting up on turkeys before daylight, don’t try to get too close to a roost. Opinions vary on what the proper distance is but as a general rule, try and get within 100 – 150 yards if it’s possible. You’re basically trying to get as close as possible to the bird without scaring it off the roost. The closer you are, the fewer the obstacles that turkey will have to come around to get to you.
Most turkey hunters have experienced a tom that “hangs up” which simply means he stops out of range at 60 yards or more, is still gobbling and refuses to come close enough for a shot. He may be hung up for several reasons. He could be behind some obstacle like a fence or creek, he might be in his favorite strutting area or he has some hens with him. He might also just be stubborn and if you call to him a lot, he will just stay there and wait for the “hen” to come to him.
There are several things to try when this happens. First, try using very soft “clucks” and “purrs” to entice him that last 20 yards. Another alternative tactic is to lightly scratch the leaves with your hand, imitating the sounds of a turkey scratching the ground. If that doesn’t work, stop calling altogether and wait him out. Turkeys have their own sense of time and it’s nothing for a gobbler to stand and strut for an hour or so in the same spot before finally giving into curiosity and coming the rest of the way in.
If the bird is still far enough away or hidden enough to allow you some limited movement, try switching calls. And, finally, the most risky option is to change your calling location either by moving back 50 yards or so and calling again there so the gobbler thinks the hen is going away, or simply circling the gobbler and trying to call him in from a different direction.
If you have found a gobbler that is located on a hillside or part way up a ridge, try and climb the hill or ridge and call from a position above the tom or at least on the same level. Turkeys are not as likely to come downhill to a call.
If you’re lucky(?) enough to live in a windy state like I do, you better learn to hunt in the wind. Strong winds increase the challenge of turkey hunting since you cannot hear as well and neither can the turkeys. Try and find spaces that are out of the wind if possible and if not use loud, high-pitched box calls and glass or aluminum friction calls that can be heard through that wind. Try setting up and calling in a position upwind of where you think there may be turkeys so the sound of your calling can go downwind to them.
Do not attempt to shoot a strutting gobbler. If you can, wait until the bird comes out of strut and extends his neck. If he doesn’t do it by himself, give him a “cluck” or two and that is usually enough for him to come out of strut and raise his head to see who is there. Your goal as a hunter is to take the best shot possible and cleanly harvest the bird. A shotgun pattern is most efficient when the bird extends its neck, enlarging the target area.
Patience, Patience, Patience – Probably the most overlooked skill in turkey hunting is the ability to sit still and wait out a gobbler. When you can’t stand sitting anymore and you think it’s time to get up and move to another hunting spot, stay put for fifteen more minutes. Patience kills more gobblers than any other factor.
If you see another hunter approaching you in the woods, never move or make turkey sounds. Simply call out his name if you know him or say “Hello.” The sound of a human voice will safely alert the hunter that someone else is in the area. It is far better to maybe spook a gobbler in the area than to get accidentally shot at.