With the fall turkey season at hand, its never too late to consider a few turkey hunting tips to improve your strategies and tactics. According to TPWD Upland Game Bird Specialist Jason Hardin, the cooler and average summer and decent rainfall means the outlook should be for a good season. Here are seven tips that might help you bring home the turkey.
- Be early. Turkeys drop down from their roosts at sunrise and can be very vocal as they work to regroup on the ground. This is a great opportunity to pinpoint where the turkeys are and start working them as they search for the rest of the flock.
- Match the call. Frantic vocalizations represent a need for the flock to be together. When you hear a bird call, return the same type of call at the same frequency. Matching their calls will help drive them towards you. To that end, make sure you carry a full range of calls so that you can be prepared for any situation.
- Place decoys effectively. Position your decoys in an open area. Turkeys have excellent vision, but need to be able to see the decoys clearly. An open field or clearing in the woods will give them something to focus on. And place the decoys no longer than 25 yards from your spot to make sure the birds will be within your kill range.
- Wear full camo. As mentioned above, turkeys have excellent vision. Full camo is a requirement, not an option, including not just a shirt and pants, but also gloves, hat, and face mask or face paint. Mimic the local environment, which in Texas can mean a more open camo pattern.
- Pack the right gear. The basics for any hunting gear list include the obvious things (sunscreen, sunglasses, water, snacks, first aid kit, etc.) but there are a few specifics for turkey hunting. A folding stool will make the hunt more comfortable over several hours of waiting, as will knee pads for when you need to get off the stool but crouch in place for awhile. And since turkeys have excellent vision, binoculars will help you spot them at greater distances before they see you. They will also help you distinguish hens from gobblers. A turkey hunting vest can be a good investment to help organize all of the gear you will be carrying.
- Try different tactics. Just sitting and calling won’t always work. You may need to change up your tactics to attract the birds. A classic fall turkey hunting tactic is the scatter and recall. If you locate a flock, sneak close and then rush them yelling and waving your arms to scatter them in all directions. Then you can set up in the direction that they scattered, let things calm down, and then start calling. The turkeys will come around you trying to regroup as a flock, and you can try to call them into range.
- Set up for the shot. When setting up with your back against a tree, position yourself at about a 90 degree angle to where turkeys may approach from. If you are right-handed, your left shoulder should be pointing at the birds. This gives you the most versatile shooting position and allows you to swing the gun without having to move your body.
Fall turkey hunting is always fun – the temperatures are cooler, the leaves are changing, and its just a great time of year to be outside. Hopefully these tips will help add a little more success to your turkey hunting fun.