I came to turkey hunting relatively late in my life. When I was a kid in Nebraska there weren’t many turkeys around. In fact I can remember hunting pheasants in south eastern Nebraska one morning with a flush of a huge hen “pheasant”. While standing a little shocked my partner and I determined it was in fact a wild turkey that we had “hear” were around.
They were so rare that hunting them never seemed an option. Twenty years later I was single and living in Montana, a big game hunter who also hunted ducks. I read about the turkeys of eastern Montana. Licenses were over the counter and I had a friend whose family owned a cattle and grain operation on the Milk River.
To become a Turkey Hunting Expert, I bought a turkey hunting video and a slate call. I was set!
I hunted turkeys like I deer hunted in Montana. Primarily with binoculars. I still do. I shot my bird that year.
Never underestimate the effect of luck.
Opening morning I drove a road along the Milk, spotted a dozen and a half turkeys on the edge of a grain field figured out (guessed right) the direction they were headed. Snuck down along the river as close as I could without spooking them and then did three clucks on the slate.
The group was not scared off by the call and continued down a cow path. Several passed me until the tom was within 25 yards in front of me. I shot it.
I was pretty sure I was now an expert.
Now, I am only a slightly better turkey hunter, but much more aware of the challenges and thrills of the turkey hunt.
I am a big believer that one of the best introductions to hunting any novice hunter can have is turkey hunting. I am an avid, die hard, Waterfowler. But I love to turkey hunt and I love to take others turkey hunting with me.
Why are turkeys the perfect introduction bird?
Because now a days where they are they are plentiful and they are everywhere.
Frequent sightings create a near constant optimism in the field. Hearing a gobble is exciting. And in the spring season you hear gobbling. Even if they shut down during the day light, in the early predawn morning a gobble is easy to draw using a locator call such as a coyote howler as I do. Pulling the trigger on a strutting tom is an awesome and almost intimidating experience.
Here are some of the rewards of the turkey chase;
Inexpensive to hunt.
Usually good weather.
Easy to locate.
Easy to interact with (get a response to a call).
Frequent sighting of your quarry.
Numerous stalks full of optimism.
My advice to new turkey hunters is to develop a “run and gun” strategy. Learn a slate call (not difficult). Get a decoy. Scout for turkeys in the AM. Set up where you have seen birds in the mornings and spend a half hour on a set up. If you do not hear or see turkeys in the half hour head to a new location. Use your binoculars. Keep moving and keep the excitement.
Some make turkeys out to be some higher intellect with keen senses that make them nearly impossible to hunt. I don’t know anything about anything, but I have harvested a couple dozen Tom Turkeys. I have had a lot of fun. I encourage you to take a few weeks next spring and chase these birds.
You might grow to love it too.
Until I see you in the field, Be Safe, Be Good, and BE LUCKY!!