(Photo by David Miller)
Ten Reasons You Won’t Bag a Turkey This Spring
(I should know, I have done all of them….)
You know how I hate to be the bearer of bad news. I wish I could tell you that for the entire turkey season this spring it will be sunny and 65 degrees every day (it certainly hasn’t been here lately), the turkeys will gobble till your ears hurt and march toward your calling like you are Ben Rodgers Lee (world-famous turkey caller) incarnate. Sorry to say, boys and girls, but it ain’t gonna happen. Turkey hunting success, like many things in life, is often the result of careful planning and preparation. So if you would like some friendly advice on how to up your chances of taking home some beards and spurs, let’s look at 10 reasons why you won’t be posing for pictures with the thunder chicken this year.
- You didn’t scout the area like I told you to. I mean really, how many times do I have to tell you about this? We’ve been over this for the past couple of years, you have to go scout your territory! Learn the lay of the land, see where most of the turkey sign is, and O yeah, observe turkeys! Don’t go too early either, two weeks before the season is about right. Do I have to say this one? Don’t call up the turkeys you are going to hunt!
- You didn’t pattern your shotgun. I’ve told you this one so many times I’m ashamed to bring it up again. All shotguns do not shoot the same with all ammunition, and which choke that you use affects everything. Put your gun, with the shells that you intend to use, on paper at a reasonable range, let’s say 40 yards. Only then do you know exactly what the shotgun is doing when you yank the trigger.
3. Too much talk. With turkeys and humans, sometimes a person that talks too much is not very appealing. While hen turkeys do call a lot at times, starting out by calling sparingly is better. As long as the gobbler is responding, he hears you; calling too much could hang him up and kill the deal.
4.You set up in a bad place. No matter how proud you are of your calling, if you set up and call from a location that the turkey will not come to, you are done. Turkeys can, but usually won’t cross good-sized creeks (I don’t know why, and they don’t either), they won’t come through dense brush and they won’t come through a hog wire fence that you didn’t know was there.
5.Sit still and don’t move. If the gobbler is coming to your call, the last 50 yards is the most crucial to seal the deal. Any, and I mean any, movement you make after he crosses that yard line may result in you witnessing just how fast a wild turkey can run (or fly).
6.You got too close. Approaching a turkey gobbling on the roost is tricky business. One step too far and you may hear flapping wings or get the dreaded silence of the cold shoulder. You must have cover, darkness, and or the topography to mask your approach.
7. You didn’t get close enough. I know, you are confused by these two rules, but get used to it, it’s turkey hunting. If the conditions allow, if you have enough cover, and/or darkness, and if the ground is damp enough to quiet the leaves, you may sneak in very close to the gobbler on the limb. Sit down, get your gun up, call softly one time, and don’t make another sound until he flys down, be ready.
8. You left the party too early. Turkeys that gobble good and then shut up for seemingly no reason perplex us all. Unless you have somewhere to be, or there is another gobbler sounding off nearby, relax. Get comfortable, enjoy the morning, (I like to take a nap) and call every 20 to 30 minutes. The gobbler may arrive fashionably late.
9. You didn’t keep your head down. Believe me when I tell you that more turkeys have been missed for this reason than any other. Your cheek must be firmly against the stock and you sight all the way down the rib of the shotgun. If your head is up and you sight across the front sight, you will shoot high and miss, every time. Rifle-type sights or an optic like a red dot-style sight will help.
10. Enjoy the day. Many of us make turkey hunting far too hard and too much work. The game is hard enough without us making it more difficult and taking it too seriously. Chill, enjoy the entire experience, and don’t base everything on whether you call in a gobbler or not. As you change your attitude you may be surprised when your success rate goes up.
Hunt hard, be true to yourself and the turkeys and be thankful for every one of them that you pack out of the woods.