With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you have two options for bringing the turkey home to the table: You either head off to the grocery store and buy the biggest turkey they have on the rack, or you can be more traditional and hunt for a turkey.
Of course, hunting for a turkey is far more challenging – but also more rewarding. Yet all too often, turkey hunters end up with nothing and are forced to buy turkey meat from the deli at the last minute. You don’t want to be one of those people.
Besides, learning how to turkey hunt is also a valuable skill. If you ever find yourself in a survival or off-grid situation, turkeys are an excellent source of food.
Just like you, turkeys only have one thing on their mind: survival. Finding them isn’t going to be easy, but if you follow these tips and practice them, you’ll be a step ahead.
1. Get up very early
Turkeys will be out and about early in the morning, so plan on being set up and out there by at least 5 a.m. Off in the distance, you may hear the gobbling of the hens in the early morning woods. Plus, waking up early will give you more time to hunt, and you’ll be set up long before many other hunters. Most animals rest during the middle of the day and at night. And get to bed earlier the previous night so you’ll be rested up for the hunt.
2. Use more than one turkey call
It’s absolutely fine if you have one you prefer, but talented turkey hunters carry a variety of calls with them, so that they can make two, three or four different sounds instead of just one. Why? Just as each person is different, each turkey is different, as well. Just because one turkey responds well to one call doesn’t mean that the next one will as well. The best calls to get and try include box calls, friction calls, diaphragm calls, tube calls, and wing bone calls.
3. Call downhill as much as possible
Turkeys are smart animals and are more likely to respond to a call or a decoy going uphill. Why? Because it’s easier for turkeys to spot danger going uphill rather than downhill, and since their primary concern is survival, they don’t want to take any bad chances. They’d rather walk straight or go uphill. Plus, shooting downhill and hitting your target is easier than shooting up.
4. Hunt in warm weather as much as possible
Many hunters prefer to hunt in the rain since the sound of it falling makes animals less alert to their presence. But turkeys tend to hide under cover when it’s raining hard, and they’ll be out and about most often when it’s warm and sunny.
5. Hunt in open country as much as possible
It makes it much easier to find turkeys, and they are more commonly found in open areas than deep in the woods. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid the woods, however; many hunters have come home to Thanksgiving with a turkey that came from the wilderness.
6. Be patient
As far as the statistics, turkeys are among the most difficult North American animals to hunt. Even if you go weeks or months with only hearing the gobblers in the distance but never even getting a shot off at one, don’t give up. Keep practicing using these techniques, and you’ll get one.
And once you do shoot your first turkey, it will seem significantly easier on each successive hunt. Plus, you’ll feel proud that you not only provided food for a special holiday, but for your family as well.