View Full Version : First time turkey hunting tips?

12-26-2007, 01:13 PM
I've hunted a reasonable amount of small game, deer and elk some, and I'm wanting to try for a Turkey this spring season.

Any tips, pointers or suggestions for a first timer?

I think I know what to do with the shotgun. My questions are regarding finding the turkeys and calling them in. I want to get a call or two and start practicing soon. What are some good ones to start with? I got a diaphragm call a year or two ago to play with, but don't really like it and never managed to get any good at using it, never tried to actually call a turkey with it. My wife did not care for my practicing either:laugh:

Can anyone offer pointers about finding the turkeys and getting in the woods without spooking them?

How bout a good place to find this info, like recommended books, videos, websites, etc that are geared toward a newbie?

And lastly, where can I find a good illustrated guide on how to field dress a turkey?

12-26-2007, 03:48 PM
I am sure buckshot will have some good advice for you here soon. He has much more experience than I. I have hunted them 5 years and they are a lot of fun. I tried to use a diaphram call, but it made me gag to much. I was really dissapointed because if one can master it, I believe it is the best call to use since it is hands free. It is also probably the hardest. I suggest that if you can actually make sounds with it, keep praticing. As far as finding turkeys. I assume there are a lot turkeys where you are? I assume this becuase I hunt them in maine and we do not have a lot and they are easy to find. You can locate them in the fields in the morning, afternoons, and at night. It has been my experience that if you see a flock at night, or close to dark, they will roost there. Hang around and watch them, you will probably see them roost. If they do roost, they will be their the next morning. I always just creep in and take a place right around where they roosted, or you can set up where you seen them on the ground. either way, they are hitting the ground and you can work your magic with the call. I have shot 3 turkeys and not had to call in a one. They have always just plopped down in the area I was sitting. You definately need to be quiet. I always find where I am going to sit the day before so I know exactly where I am going to go and don't have to wonder around. If you scare a couple, don't worry. I have done that before and still been successful. Big thing with these birds (or any other wildlife) is movement. stay still, they are still looking when they are in the trees. I got busted big time this year and the result was no turkey. I was trying to get a better look at the tom and decided to "perk" my head up. the whole flock left and all I did was stretch my neck a little. Of course this can be dealt with by using a blind. Set it up a couple days ahead of time and you will be all set. Just be quiet closing it back up. If you cannot see any in a field at night and want to know if they are there, use the owl or crow call. turkeys get irratated very easily. If the crows start flying over in the morning and the turkeys do not gobble at them, I know they are not there. It can also be a good locator in the morning, but I am weary of getting them going too early in the morning. Learn your calling and in what situation different calls work best in. I learned a lot from a hen turkey my second year who came to my decoys and stayed 2 hours. She made just about every call in the book. One thing that took me for a loop was when she tried to call in the big tom about 350 yards away (we both tried). She was 10 yards from me calling him and I could barely hear her. That told me a lot. I will paste a link you can go to and download some turkey calls so you know what they sound like. learn them and when to use each call and you will be fine. I know up here, it is the toms that are hard to get in, not the jakes. I have heard of guys dropping their box calls in the blinds and having the jakes run at them. Make sure you are adequately camoed also. Head to toe. that is the extent of my knowledge. God be with you.

12-26-2007, 08:02 PM
We have a plastic box call with a trugger you pull to sound it. actually works. We learned by going out and calling before the season to learn what they answer too. In season it worked great.

All of davidt89 advice is good too especially on the movement and camo.

12-26-2007, 08:48 PM
Welcome to the turkey woods. I hope you didn't spend all your money on xmas gifts. There are lots and lots of turkey toys to add to your collection of neat hunting stuff. David has some good advice for sure.

Any call you are comfortable with is a good call. From hardest to easiest would be diaphram, slate, box and push button. There may be other types but most are some variation of these. If you have any doubts about your calling and want to be sure you are "sounding good", get a push button call and use it until you build some confidence in calling and then try the others. The box call is a very good call to get some volume from your calling. Good to have on windy days or anytime you want to get your calls on out there. The slate is a very good finesse call and once you learn to use it, you will probably use it alot. The diaphram is a "do it all" call and if you use one to call elk, you are a shoo in for using it on turkeys. They can be tough to master without someone to show you how and as you know, no one else appreciates your efforts. Just carry lots of paper towels in your truck to wipe off the insides of your windshield with. Tha's about the only place you can practice and be married. Never mind the wierd looks you get from the other cars. You are on a mission.

Tom's quite often gobble just before or right after they fly up to roost in the evening, in the spring. They also like to gobble from the roost before they fly down in the morning, to announce their presence to the hens, hoping to get the hens to come to them. Find a good listening point just before dusk and again just before first light in the mornings and try to pinpoint the location of any toms you hear. If you hear some in the evening, they will be there in the morning. Plan a way to get close to the roosted birds the next morning. Usually 100 yards is about as close as you want to try to get, if you want to try to call them in once they fly down. You never can be sure which way they will fly down off the roost so you just have to give it your best shot as where to set up. This is a real good situation to use a hen decoy. The tom will be expecting the hen he hears (you) to come to him. You are hoping that he will get curious after a bit and will come to you. If he sees a decoy, he will focus on it and it will help to assure him that the hen he hears is really there and he will be more likely to come on in. Be sure to set the decoy up within gun range but not in your lap.

If you locate some in the morning after they have flown down off the roost, go to them. Be careful. They have excellent eye sight and will bust you in a heartbeat if you try to get too close. If you can get within 200 or even 100 yards of the tom, it's time to stop, pick a good spot and start calling to him. If he doesn't have any hens with him, he may very well come in to you once he flies down. You can set your decoy up if you have time and want to, but this can be too time consuming sometimes. The toms will be moving and won't stay still for long, if they are without hens. Call to him and wait. If you get an answer, call back. Don't get wild with the call. Be shy. Make him be curious and come to you. It is normal for the hen to go to the tom and not the other way around. If he doesn't call, don't quit right away. Sometimes they come in silently, especially if they aren't a dominant tom. Keep your eyes peeled and look for movement and never ignore your back completely. Sometimes they will circle behind you quietly and surprise you. The first time you have one come in behind you and gobble in your ear, you'll be glad you have a spare pair of underwear back at the truck.

If you aren't able to connect with a tom at fly down or shortly there after, don't quit. The birds will go to their breeding area and breed after they fly down. This is quite often done along field edges. Once the breeding is over for the morning, the hens will wander off to find their nests. The toms will then begin to cruise, looking for anymore receptive hens. This usually happens around 10 AM, give or take. The tom will be cruising through the woods feeding and occasionally gobbling, hoping to find a hen. If you hear a gobble mid day, get as close as you can as quick as you can, get set up and then call and be patient. Sometimes they will charge in. Other times they won't call at all. Be careful when going to the tom. You don't want to run head on in to him by trying to get too close.

Wear camo on your face and your hands as well as your body. When you set up, sit with your back to a tree if possible and raise one knee up and rest your gun on it, pointing in the direction you expect the tom to come from. This puts you in position to be ready to shoot without having to move much at all. Once a bird is in close, they can see your eyes blink if you aren't careful. This is a brief bit of info but maybe it will help. Goodluck.

buckshot roberts
12-31-2007, 04:54 PM
"Note" all my turkey hunting has been the mountains of kentucky...

:) :biggthumpup: Now were talking.... man nothing like the sound
of a tom strut'n in the woods.... yep looks like ya'll been given some very good "ADVICE".... Me I started hunting the turkey back in the 70's... the first hunt I was on, was in the fall of 1969.... an like anyother wild game ya hunt... ya learn as ya go... an you'll see... These days they have more toy's to hunt them with......:eek: I've hunted in bluejeans an old army shirt's...using singleshot shoutguns in 2 3/4.. for a long time... so it's up to you.....how do you want to hunt them.... how much you want to spend on the new turkey stuff...

:biggthumpup: Plan Ahead....
say ya got a shotgun.....what kind will you be using,12 or 20,ga 2 3/4 ?...
:yes: what shotshell workd best with it...
:yes: check the pattern at say 70 yards.....
:Banghead: I shot with both eye's open to aviold eye fatigue... some times you have to work on in...it may take a while...an another thing that ol' shotgun well get heavy hold'n it up...after a while...
:) try this if you can take your shotgun out somewere were you can set up a turkey target.... set up just like you would in the field...set on that cold ground and hold that shotgun for a few min's and see how well you hit the target...
:) Call's it's what works for you... me I'm not that good with the diaphragm type call's..:frown so I use a box call.... an a wingbone call...I was never one to get wild with the call's....owl .... crow calls are a must... they will help you find them and keep with them as the move around...
:) Decoys.... if you want to use them.... they do work.... .....if you use them...do this when seting them up... try puting the jake's face towards you... tom's will come around an aproach the jake from the front.... same with the hen...
:) Camo... all the patterns work... I've hunted in just army O.D. green on....an with just dirt on my face.... just be very still.... work on not moving...keep a good background behind you...wider than you...I've hunted over and under log's.... fallen tree's...by big ol' rock's....;) just blinds of all kinds in them there woods.....
:) Location.... check around a body of water.... creek...pound... or lake...they like to take a drink after flying down from the roost.... so check for sign....the mature toms will roost in large pine tree's. an they well strut not far from were the roost....an will have more that one strut zone per say..... they will set pattern just like bucks making rub's... they make there rounds to these strut places.... walk the same trail... (:) I've taken many doing this.....) look to see what side of the mountain the strut is on if the eastern side it's a morning strut....this is just some of the things...... Ron

here are a few pic's from late 70's,... 80's ...an 90's...

01-01-2008, 01:18 PM
Thanks for all of the tips! :biggthumpup:

My learning curve has flattened out some now.

I rented and watched all of the turkey hunting videos from the library, all 4 of them.

There are things to learn from these, but usually not a lot. There is more to learn from the birds than the hunters.

I've only got 1 shotgun, so that's the one I'm going to use this year. It's a Mossy 500 20ga 3" gun with chokes, that I've had for nearly 20yrs. I'm a rifle and handgun guy.... I plan to get a couple of Cabela's "factory style" $18 x-full and super full extended tubes and try them against my factory full choke with a couple of good 3" plated/buffered #6 and maybe #5 loads and some generic 2 3/4" #6 game loads I have already for comparison.

Why do you say to try 70yds? That seems awful far. Now I know what to do with those extra rolls of wrapping paper.

I've been toying with putting some sort of sights on it (rifle guy, remember), but my gun is too old to be factory drilled and tapped and a saddle mount is $50, or a good start on another more purpose-built shotgun. I really like that Mossberg 500 Grand Slam 12ga 3" and I know where an Encore 12ga Turkey barrel is for cheap too. I don't like any of the fiber-optic sights that are cheaper than the saddle mount.

Meanwhile, I've been getting strange looks from nearby motorists when they hear strangling turkey noises coming from my car - playing with the diaphragm call I have. I need a casette to listen to for comparison, as my calls sound more like sad puppies or sick geese than randy turkeys, at least to my ears. I've seen an affordable set with a casette, a few diaphragms, and a slate call at Wally World before, but they don't have them right now.

I'll probably pick up a decoy and a big orange bag to keep me from getting blasted while carrying it!

This should be fun!

How bout some field dressing tips?

01-01-2008, 08:42 PM
The only thing worth eating on a wild turkey is the breast. I breast them just like a dove.

01-02-2008, 08:19 AM
Subsonic- Lot's of good advice here already. The only thing I would add is Scout, scout, and then scout. Knowing the area they are in saves many hours searching during the season. I'd reinforce the learn one call type well and go with it at first. I use the slate and box well and only soso on the diaphragm call. All have worked, even the weak diaphragm skills. The calling doesn't have to be NWTF Championship quality or perfect, just keep it simple and dont over do it. Every bird that has come in close enough to see the dekes has come in the rest of the way. I stop calling once they see the dekes. I put 'em out at about 25-30 yds. and dont shoot past 40 yds. I have a 12 ga Moss 500 with a full choke, my teenagers use the 20 ga Moss 500. I may try it this year, too.

Good hunting this spring!! KD

buckshot roberts
01-02-2008, 01:17 PM
Why 70 yds, that's about the range of the new turkey loads... it give's you some idea of how your pattern is.... sometimes you cant get a tom to come in.....as far as you want... that Ol' mossy 500 is a good one to use...you'll do fine....

:yes: I'm with shadow rider.... on the berast.... but try a hen once whole... :food04: you may or my not like it....

:yes: as for chokes... I have taken them with the full,mod, an
:lipsrsealed: I'm not much on the turkey hunting shows an DvD's myself....

:yes:Take a pic first...? before you field dress it.... do you want to mount it....? if you want the tail fathers do not shoot the turkey while it is strutting.....you'll get shot holes in it....pull the fathers and skin apart down from the breast bone.... cut reach in an pull out....the insides.... Ron

01-22-2008, 04:01 PM
In learning to use this mouth call (which I'd still be hard pressed to call a turkey with) I found this website and have used some of it's suggestions. Maybe it will help someone else? The diaphragm calls sure are cheap enough.


01-22-2008, 04:55 PM
I am with shadow and Ron on eating just the breast. That is all I take now. 70 yards is a long ways, maybe a last resort if he will not come in any further. If you can get them under 40, you will be all set. Anxios to hear about your success. You are doing everthing right so far, a lot more than I did when I first started. Maybe thats why I did not get a turkey that year. God Bless.

01-22-2008, 09:24 PM
Well, I hate to waste, so I'll at least try the first one whole.

As far as doing everything right..... the most important stuff is still left un-done. Too dang cold to scout for sheds and birds. Need to brave the cold and do some pattern work too.

buckshot roberts
01-24-2008, 12:57 PM
Best of luck to ya... get back with us an let us know what... shotshell you used and how it patterned... with the ck your using......... Ron