Logging roads can present a great opportunity for hunting turkeys but there are some significant problems that you must address first in order to be effective. If you use the right tactics, you can hunt very effectively on logging or gas line roads. On this episode I get into the nitty gritty details of this unique type of turkey hunting. Tetra Hearing protection – Get 10% off with the code: NHG2410

Most turkey hunters use logging roads or gas line roads, but few successfully hunt turkeys on them. It is hard to setup on the road itself since a hunter easily stands out and it is hard to ambush a logging road because the hunter is also easily spotted or may end up too close for an effective shot if they escape detection. So, you need some unique tactics that are honed to this exact type of hunting.

I have found that turkeys often use these roads or paths through thick woods because it makes travel easier, just like it does for hunters. Turkeys also may forage for greens or bugs when the roads are covered in grass or look for pebbles to swallow on roads that are covered in gravel. Sometimes ruts in the roads also become puddles in the spring giving turkeys one more attraction as they may come to drink. So, these roads make very natural travel routes for birds to use regularly.

If you want to hunt these logging roads, you need to get back off the road a good distance into the woods. Perhaps going back 25-30 yards will put you far enough back to not be spotted by birds and make sure you are far enough to allow your shotgun pattern to open up enough to score an ideal hit.

You may want to place a decoy on the side of the trail or just wait for the birds to come walking along and take the shot once they reach ideal range. Contrary to popular opinion and TV shows, 10-15 yards is not ideal range to shoot a turkey. You want more distance to obtain maximum pattern efficiency. If the turkey is walking the road, they will likely walk right past your spot, so the decoy is not really needed and may even cause turkeys to get hung up, but it can be used. 

Another effective way to hunt these logging roads is to setup a ground blind just off of a sharp bend in the road, this can enable you to hunt both directions of the road at once and if the ground blind is setup in advance, it is unlikely that the turkeys will notice it because they will become used to it being there over the weeks and months prior to your hunt. This can be a very effective way to hunt. You may desire to setup a decoy on the edge of the logging road, which may be helpful but again be careful that the turkey does not get too close before taking a shot.

Listen to this whole podcast episode to hear the whole story!

Putting a red dot or other optic on a turkey hunting shotgun solves one of the greatest inherent problems that turkey hunters face. This can help hunters miss fewer gobblers at all ranges and it has nothing to do with skill or experience. On this episode I go in-depth on why optics make a huge difference for the turkey hunter. Tetra Hearing protection – Get 10% off with the code: NHG2410

To aim a shotgun, you must align your eye with the barrel and the front bead, your eye then serves as the rear sight of the gun. When standing and shouldering the shotgun normally, this works fairly consistently. But the moment you sit down, things change. When sitting you mount the shotgun differently because your body position is constrained by your seated position. Sometimes your sitting position is relatively harmless, sometimes it creates large problems.

If you were shooting an open choke at flying birds, the seated position would be a handicap but not so terrible of one. When you at shooting at turkeys with very tight chokes at close range, the margin of error is very small. So poor shooting position moving your pattern by a few inches may be ok when shooting at a flying duck, but it can cause you to completely miss a turkey at 20 yards on the ground.

A red dot, scope, or other optic solves this by creating a fixed point of aim that is independent of your body position.  Where ever the dot is, that is where the shotgun pattern will go, even if your body position is off by a bit. This can be of tremendous benefit at any range and under any conditions. A simple sight like this can help you take more turkeys by virtue of fewer missed shots due to poor body position. Lately I have been using and very much liking the Holosun 507k X2 Red Dot which Holosun was kind enough to send me for testing last year.

A red dot or scope can also be a benefit if you have poor eyesight or cannot see as well in low light. This can be enable some hunters to better see and aim. 

Now, I am not saying you need to just go out and buy a red dot. You can absolutely hunt without them, people did for hundreds of years. But especially with tight shooting modern turkey loads and chokes, missing has become a widespread problem. If you have your other bases covered and have already invested in all the more important hunting gear you need, a red dot or other optic may be the next logical step to consider in order to improve your shot to hit ratio.

Listen to the full podcast episode to hear more!

There is no best turkey hunting shotgun out there, but there is a best or an ideal one for you. In fact, there are probably many. But to choose a good one, you need to know what elements make a good turkey gun and how your personal hunting style and preferences impact the features that would help you most. On this episode I talk through several big points to help you select the right turkey hunting shotgun for you. Tetra Hearing protection – Get 10% off with the code: NHG2410

 Here is the video mentioned in this episode.

There are several factors to consider in order to find the best turkey hunting shotgun, including:

Size – A shorter barrel is often desirable for turkey hunting, but this is not an automatic characteristic, how you hunt will determine the best barrel length for you. If you hunt short range birds in very thick woods, then an 18″ barrel may be best for you. If you hunt wide fields from the edge of cover then you may prefer a longer 28″ barrel to slightly velocity, sighting, and pattern.

Weight – For those hunting in a blind, shotgun weight may not matter at all, but if you are running and gunning, you may want a lighter gun. Likewise, your body size plays an important role in determining how heavy of a gun you can comfortably carry.  To get a lighter gun, you will need to consider a 20 gauge or smaller shotgun. However, sub gauges come with other various tradeoffs.

Recoil – For some, recoil is no object. For most, recoil matters, and to those who are recoil sensitive, it matters a lot. I recommend against getting a sub gauge shotgun to reduce recoil. The lighter the gun the more pronounced the felt recoil is to the shooter. I have shot magnum .410s that hurt my shoulder more than 12-gauge loads.  The best way to reduce recoil for those who are recoil sensitive is to maintain gun weight while reducing the shotgun shell’s potency. A 12-gauge loaded with 1 oz of TSS at 1150 FPS will have less recoil than a target load and much less recoil than a 28 gauge with the same load because of the weight. 

Action – For turkey hunting, action matters perhaps least of all because it is generally a one-shot sport. A single shot, pump action, semi auto, over under, or even bolt action shotgun will all work fine. What is best for you depends on your preferences and style, and perhaps budget. A semi-auto will reduce felt recoil a little which may make it more desirable to some but ultimately there is no best action, just what serves you best.

Gauge – It is very popular to hunt with sub gauges today, and that is fine, if it is the right option for you. Modern TSS ammo makes sub gauges very viable. There are 20 gauge loads today that are better than the 12 gauge loads of yesterday. Those two can be used almost interchangeably. Going smaller than that will likely begin to limit your range which may or may not matter depending on how you hunt. A .410 turkey gun is viable with TSS but you have more range potential with a 12 or 20 gauge.

Listen to the whole episode to hear more about how to choose the best turkey hunting shotgun for you.

Can you effectively hunt the same spot or even the same bird twice in one day? What about if you spooked that bird? Most people would say no, but most people would be wrong. Not only is it possible to take a second pass at a spot but at times it can be your best prospect to bring home a nice gobbler. On this episode I talk about when and how to hunt spots and birds twice in the same day. Tetra Hearing protection – Get 10% off with the code: NHG2410

There are numerous scenarios where you might want to hunt a spot twice in the same day. 

Perhaps a gobbler came off the roost and started towards you but was pulled another way by hens, or maybe the bird came off the roost in the opposite direction of you and never even looked your way. He may come back later once he has finished mating and look for that early hen he heard but did not go to. This is very common.

Maybe you are in an area that has a lot of turkey activity but there were no birds there that morning, it was completely vacant and quiet. It may very well be that you are in a good spot that birds come to, it is in their regular territory, and they will move into that area later in the day. If you have good sign, you have good reason to hang out or come back later.

Say you spooked a bird early in the morning and it ran away. As long as the bird did not catch you calling and trying to impersonate another turkey, there is a chance that after a couple hours it will return, hoping the threat has moved on, and look for that hen. Many things spook turkeys, every day, constantly. They may run, wait, or hide, until the danger passes and then they continue on, perhaps with more caution but eventually they get back to normal. As long as the bird thinks the calling it heard was another turkey, it may wait out the threat and come back when it seems safe. 

There are many other factors beyond breakfast that contribute to why you may want to leave a spot and come back as well. Perhaps you have turkeys in the area in the morning, but none came towards you. You have a great area for running and gunning that you want to go to after the initial morning action dies down. After that, your best prospect may be to return to the area that had the initial action because you know there are birds in the area.

For much more detail and information, listen to the entire podcast episode! 

It is time to re-evaluate a lot of media and marketing driven propaganda to find the simple truth behind turkey hunting chokes and strategy. So many lies, half-truths, and half-baked ideas have filled the internet and turkey hunting culture about what a good choke tube, pattern, and ideal distance is, that many have forgotten the reality of what usually happens in a turkey hunt. In this episode I interview Jimmy Muller from Muller Chokes.

You can find Jimmy’s chokes at MullerChokes.com 

Turkey hunters are taught from early on that the best possible pattern in the tightest possible pattern. This does two main things, it gives you the longest possible maximum range, and reduces the chance of putting pellets in the breast meat. We are told that tighter patterns mean we take more birds. But what if there was more to the story than this? What if this line of turkey hunting doctrine was nothing more than a heavily marketing induced fallacy? What if tighter patterns and increased range actually resulted in taking fewer total birds?

While it seems like a good idea to be able to shoot out to 60 yards, the truth is most turkeys are shot within 30 yards.  And an ideal pattern at 60 yards is a very bad pattern at 15-30 yards. Only rarely does the average turkey hunter take a bird at extended range. So to be able to boost the odds of getting that occasional bird, we are damaging our odds at taking all other birds.

You see to put 400 pellets in a 10″ circle at 50 yards, our pattern has to be very tight, similar to a baseball at 20 yards. A pattern that tight makes it very difficult to hit a turkey at close range. Any off variable can cause a miss, from sitting at an angle when you mount your shotgun to the turkey moving or gobbling. Many turkeys are missed at close range because the choke and ammo selection is optimized for maximum range.

Also, you do not need 400 pellets of TSS in a 10″ at 50 yards. That is a waste of pattern potential. You only need 100 pellets in that circle to do the maximum among of damage needed. Significantly more than that is waste. You would be better off with a bigger pattern giving more margin of error at all ranges. Of course, that leads to moans and groans from turkey hunters who are concerned about getting stray pellets in the breast meat.

Consider this, those hunting ducks, geese, pheasants, doves, and just about all other birds routinely put pellets in the breast meat and do not think anything of it. Why is the turkey the one game bird where such a thing is viewed as sacrilege? Why not just remove the pellets, assuming they do not travel all the way through the meat and out the back of the turkey as many modern TSS loads do. Why are people so concerned about getting a pellet in the breast meat?

In short, this is TV driven, and marketing propaganda. At 25 yards, target loads with a modified choke are just as effective at taking a turkey, maybe even more so, than TSS with a tight turkey choke. I am not opposed to TSS ammo, but I am opposed to hurting the odds of taking birds at normal ranges due to over choking for ranges that turkeys are rarely shot at. Why risk missing 5 birds out of 10 to get a better shot at 1 bird out of 10?

In this episode I talk with Jimmy Muller in depth about these issues and what turkey hunters can do in order maximize their changes to take turkeys at all range.

Here is the video I mentioned in this podcast episode:

How do you hunt turkeys in the rain? Is it even worth your time to try? On this episode I talk about how rain impacts turkey behavior and I work to help you determine if and how hunting turkeys in the rain could work for you.

Rain significantly impacts turkey behavior, however, that does not mean you cannot hunt them. In fact, you can use their change in behavior to your advantage if you plan well and have the right kinds of hunting habitat available to you.

While neither turkeys nor much else moves in heavy rain, they will move in light to moderate rain, and of course all heavy rain eventually ends. If the weather is very bad, birds may not leave the roost, or if they have already flown down, they may hunker down in thick cover if the storm is bad enough. But once the weather breaks, they will begin to move again, looking for food and company.

The rain creates a lot of noise and reduces the effectiveness of a turkey’s hearing to keep it safe. So, the birds often move to larger open areas where they can see for long distances in order to detect predators by sight. And after the rain ends, the trees still drip so turkeys will move into open areas to begin drying out faster. These could be fields, clearings, burned areas, gas line roads, food plots, etc.

So, you want to try and identify these areas that the birds will move to and get their first if possible or arrive just before the rain lets up. The good news is that if the weather is very bad, you can arrive in the woods hours later and be present when the birds begin moving mid-day. 

People often assume hunting blinds are the answer for poor weather. These have pros and cons. Yes, a pop-up blind can keep you dry and comfortable and keep your calls and gear dry and effective. That is great. But blinds are most often placed in areas that are good turkey hunting spots for fair weather. Often these are not very productive foul weather spots. So, while the blind is a great resource, if the rain turns a good location into a bad location, then you may be better off just staying home or moving out on foot.

Personally, I do not like to hunt rainy days because of the extra gear challenges that rain causes for turkey hunting. But if it’s a Saturday I will still likely go out because those days are fixed, I only have so many weekends in any given turkey season. However, if I am taking time off work and it’s raining, I may reschedule my day off for better weather. If I can shift the day easily, it can be more enjoyable to hunt a nice weather day.

Ultimately you need to decide for yourself if going out on a rainy day is a good idea for you and your hunting style. Listen to the full episode to hear all the details!

 

Maps and apps are all the rage but how you can effectively use them to scout for turkey hunting? The unavoidable truth is you must put boots on the ground to scout for turkeys effectively. But these tools can help you focus your time on the most promising areas. On this episode I talk about how to read maps and find the ideal landmarks that signify good spots to go and check out.

The single most important part of turkey hunting is picking an area that holds turkeys. If there are no turkeys nearby then it doesn’t matter how good your gear is, how expensive your TSS ammo may be, or how skilled of a caller you are, you will not be taking any turkeys. They must be there. And using maps and apps can help you save time. In truth nothing about this is new, it’s just done digitally vs. on paper. Old time turkey hunters used these same tactics to find good hunting spots. 

Using maps and apps for scouting turkeys is all about knowing what to look for, or rather what can be seen from a satellite photo or topography lines. Understanding how to read a map is critical to doing this but this podcast episode is not on the subject of map reading but rather using the knowledge gleaned from the map.

In order to locate ideal turkey hunting habitat, you must look for numerous features that intersect in close proximity. The first thing I look for is clearings. Turkeys like open spaces in the spring, natural or man-made. They want to be able to see each other and see predators at a distance and often they will spend a portion of the day in these open spaces. They prefer full clearings but will settle for open spaces in the woods, such as under mature oak trees.

Once I find open spaces, I begin looking for water. Turkeys do need to drink periodically but the bigger reason I want to find water is because soft wet ground holds turkey tracks and makes their presence easier to detect. Streams and possibly even better, muddy puddles, make it easy to see turkey tracks, which can give you a very important indicator that they are in the area. And if they are in the area, you can hunt them. You can also setup trail cameras around tracks to get more information about how often and when they are in the area. This intel can help you pick and prioritize spots. 

Streams and clearings are easy to see from satellite images, and often map apps will overlay stream info onto these images to make it easier to see them. To hear about the other things you want to look for, listen to the full podcast episode.

 

Turkey hunting today is plagued with opinionated self-righteous snobbery about what is right, what is ethical, and what is fun. But there is nothing objective to it. It is just a cauldron of bubbling highbrow tradition, group think, and mythology stirred together. On this episode I cut through the junk that is destroying our sport to help people break away from the judgmental constrictions of our culture. 

There are legal boundaries that frame the sport of turkey hunting, established by experts who have the birds’ best interests in mind. That gives us a strong framework to guide our hunting. Furthermore, we have some ethics established to help minimize animal suffering, maximize hunter safety, and ensure fair chase. But many of things people claim to be ethics are not, they are just simple opinions based on what they like, how they prefer to hunt, and how they want other people to follow their own protocols to make things better for them. 

Sometimes people are just plain selfish and try to pressure others to abide by regulations that limit them so the selfish hunter doesn’t have to work as hard, or they can hunt in ways that would normally not be effective.  Sometimes people have just been doing something a certain way for so long, they don’t want to see change. Other times new innovations come along, like TSS ammunition and people resist the innovation and the new capabilities that come with it and try to malign early adopters. They don’t want to hunt with tungsten ammo so no one should. And all of this gets pass off as “what makes a real turkey hunter”, or what is ethical, or perhaps unfounded rumors are started to dissuade people from experimenting with other strategies. 

No matter how it happens, many people are ostracized, especially on the internet, when they don’t conform to the snobbish cultural turkey hunting norms.  This podcast episode tackles this nonsense head on. I cover topics like how far is it ethical to shoot a turkey? Is TSS ammo wounding birds? Is it wrong to get pellets in the breast meat of a turkey? Is long range shooting really not fun? And why people think 101 things should be outlawed when it comes to turkey hunting.

Some of these things are simply senseless fabrications, others have data we point to in order to find clarity, and some are just garden variety opinions that have no merit and not of importance to anyone else. We need to stop shaming turkey hunters for having fun and hunting in the way they find most fun. 

 

If there is one sure thing about hunting, is it that you are going to spend money. It is best to acknowledge that from the beginning, to count the cost, and to plan for the expense, and then stick to that budget. On this episode I talk about how to set a realistic yearly hunting budget no matter what your income. This is for new hunters, lifelong hunters, and everyone in between.

When I first started hunting, I had no idea what I was getting into financially. It took me years to begin to even think about the annual costs, let alone start to budget for them. But of course, there is more to the cost of hunting than just that. There are two primary types of expenses when it comes to hunting, the fixed costs needed just to go into the woods and take game every year, and then the discretionary costs of everything else we buy.

Lots of things contribute to the cost of hunting, depending on the game we are after. If you are hunting deer, you will likely use a tree stand or a hunting blind of some sort, those have costs and don’t last forever. Maybe you need to replace them every 3-5 years, maybe every 5-10 years, but you will need new ones at some point. When it comes to waterfowl hunting, waders and decoys are the same way, when it comes to turkey hunting you have calls and vest that wear out.

No matter what you hunt, you will have clothing and other standard gear that will wear out and need replaced eventually. Many of these things you can plan for, accrue for, so you are not caught off guard. And there all the new shiny things that you must have, this is where costs can quickly multiply. So how do you budget for the necessities and the nice to haves in a way that makes sense for your level of hunting devotion and your income?

In this podcast episode I get into the nitty gritty details of how to take all of these things into account and build a smart sustainable annual hunting budget that will enable you to pay for the things needed to hunt, set aside funds for things that need replaced, and put some money away so you can buy upgrades and new fun things from time to time. The biggest trick to all of it is counting the costs, being realistic, and sticking to your budget without steeling from other areas of your life to buy more and more stuff.

It took me a few years to even begin to realize how much money I was pouring into hunting. I did not understand all of the costs or all of the things I chose to add on because I was not paying attention to the expenses, or where the funds came from that I used for hunting equipment. 

If you’ve never had a hunting budget, you may be surprised to learn that you can end up spending a lot less money by setting aside money for hunting. How can this be? Listen to the whole podcast episode to find out!

Let me also say, I am not an accountant or a financial planner. I am just a regular guy who has learned some simple financial principles over the years that anyone can put into practice to help set and keep to a reasonable budget that can cover all of your hunting costs and expenses from the must haves to the nice to haves. All it takes is a little bit of focus and discipline and you can both save money and be relieved to never need to think about where you’ll pull the money for your general hunting expenses again. 

How can you compete with all the noise out there today to capture the attention of children around hunting and keep them interested in the sport? In this episode I interview Jack Armstrong, a lifelong hunter, pastor, author, and speaker who has dedicated himself to the cause of inspiring children to embrace the outdoors, hunt, and grow closer to family. 

Here are the links mentioned in the show: Mystery In The Marsh Book | Barracuda Bombshell | Jacks YouTube | Jacks email: [email protected]

So what do you need to do in order to Get & Keep Kids Interested In Hunting

  1. Inspire Them – To want to hunt, to go outside, to have adventure. Reading to your kids is one of the best possible ways you can do this year-round. And not reading just anything but books designed to cultivate imagination and a desire for hunting. Books about strong values, character building, and hunting deer, turkey, waterfowl, elk, fishing and more. 
  2. Modeling – You need to model or demonstrate the pursuit for them to see and value. But just leaving for a week every fall to go to deer camp doesn’t do it. You need to bring them in deep enough so they can really see some things. Maybe they aren’t ready to come to deer camp, but maybe they can go with you for a work day at deer camp.
  3. Involve them in all aspects of the hunt – Scouting, shed hunting, working the land, building blinds or hanging stands, cutting trail, checking cameras, studying the weather, planning and packing the gear, etc. There are year round opportunities to cultivate relationships with the child and engage them around the bigger pursuit.
  4. Equip Them For Success – They don’t need SITKA gear but if you are cozy in your down jacket and they are shivering, they won’t be able to enjoy the hunt. You can get great used gear on places like Facebook marketplace from kids that outgrew it. You buy it, use it for 2 seasons, and then sell it and get them the next size up. Consider other things too like getting them a trail camera for their birthday that they can setup anywhere they want, make it fun, engage them in all kinds of ways.
  5. Pick The Right Hunts – Not all 10-year-olds are ready for a 12-hour deer hunt, maybe they aren’t suited for deer at all yet. Maybe squirrel hunting is a better place to start, turkeys, ducks, pheasants, doves, etc, are a better place for them to start hunting, or are more active pursuits that will help hold their interest.
  6. Recalibrate Your Expectations – Redefine success. Taking a deer or a 12-hour sit can’t be the goal. The goal has to change. Maybe it is seeing a deer, or hearing a turkey, maybe its lasting an hour. Maybe it’s the kid wanting to come back. This is a long-term investment, the goal is helping the child, not just pulling a trigger.
  7. Periodically Give Them The steering Wheel – Let them make decisions, what to shoot, where to hunt, what to hunt, how to do it. Maybe you hunt by sitting but they want to hunt on foot. Maybe you prefer rifle but they want to use a bow. Maybe you have strong proven strategies but they want to try something weird. Go with it. Give them space to stretch their wings, to experiment, to fail, and to have fun.

Some people will feel like they won’t be able to hunt anymore if they do all this. Maybe don’t take your kid to your best tree strand that is a 10 out of 10, you save that for you and your solo hunts. Instead, maybe you work with the kid to build a blind in a spot that is a 5 out of 10 for hunting a but it’s better for them because it gives them cover to fidget, it’s easier to get into, has a comfier chair, and they can see a lot of does passing in the distance. Its ok to keep things for yourself, but when it’s for them, let go of yourself and freely invest in them at those times.

Some additional authors in this space putting out great books are Lane Walker and Kevin Lovegreen. Their stuff is also outstanding.