A Quick and Easy Guide to Spring Turkey Hunting.
The first thing a turkey hunter needs is a shotgun. Any full-choke 12 gauge shotgun will do. As far as ammunition goes, the best shot sizes for turkeys are numbers 4, 5 and 6. It’s also important to learn how your gun shoots the chosen load so you can make any neccesary changes before the season.
Sighting in your shotgun:
Start by tracing the outline of a gobbler’s head and neck on a large piece of cardboard. Place the cardboard in a safe area about 20 yards from where you’ll be shooting. Mount the gun to your shoulder, sight it in along the barrel, and fire off a round. You should hit the target with a large percentage of pellets shooting in the vital area (the head and neck area).
Repeat the exercise at 30 and 40 yards to see how far away your gun is effective. You have exceeded your gun’s effective range when the pellets are no longer striking the vital area. Once you’ve sighted in your gun and determined your range, you’ll need to have a call.
Bring in the birds:
Box calls are easy to master. Box calls produce sound by moving the lid of the call over the thin side edges below it. A hunter should carry a number of calls. Besides box calls, there are slate calls, mouth calls (diaphragms), and pushbutton calls. The pushbutton is another easily learned call that can replicate the yelps, clucks, and purrs of a hen. Find out which type of call works best for you and be sure to perfect it before the season starts. Once you’ve mastered your call, be sure to outfit yourself so birds can’t spot you.
Dress like the pros:
Full camouflage clothing is essential. A turkey’s eyesight is phenomenal. Use a head net or face paint to deaden the shine of your face. Wear gloves as a turkey can readily identify the movement of your hands as you set down the call and raise your shotgun.
While thinking about camo, look to the shotgun. Any reflective finish can spook a wary bird. You can minimize glare by adding some gun camo to the shotgun. You might also want to have a Turkey Vest to keep all your gear close at hand. The pockets are great for holding extra shells, calls, candy bars, and lunch. But the most important feature of the turkey vest is the cushioned seat!
Where to find gobblers:
Turkeys need wide openings and clear spaces to feel comfortable. Thick brush can hide predators, so they tend to avoid these areas. Look for good hunting in mature pine forests, adjacent to open areas. Turkeys like grassy slopes and meadows because of the food available to them like fresh greens, seed heads, and bugs.
Look for turkey signs to help you choose a hunting area. If turkeys are in the area, they will have used the roads to travel. Try driving logging roads and walking wide game trails in turkey country. Look for droppings, tracks and feathers. If there are birds in the area, you will find their sign. If you don’t spot any sign, keep moving along until you do.
A turkey track with a 20-gauge shotgun load shown for scale.
Gary Lewis is an outdoor writer, speaker and television host from Bend, Oregon. Contact Lewis at www.garylewisoutdoors.com