Show Notes:

This was not your average turkey hunt.  Nothing about it was like any hunt I’ve ever had. It was like box office drama unfolding in real time. There were ups, downs, near defeats, a glorious finale and a sudden twist at that end. That’s right, on this episode I recount the adventure of the gobbler I took this past week and am in the process of cooking as I type this.

Throughout the episode I explain some of the tactics and strategies that I used and why, I hope you take away a lot more than just the story. Which of course should be the aim of any really good story.


Show Notes:

Turkeys like all creatures are impacted by the weather, and with a little strategy you can improve your odds. On today’s episode I talk about all different types of weather and how they effect spring gobbler hunting.

Take Aways:

  • There is debate over what is best, sunny or cloudy. The bottom line is you should be in the woods for both!
  • Sunny and cloudy both impact concealment so you need to be mindful to adjust your approach for each.
  • Cold, crisp mornings, especially after an over all temperature drop seem to give a slight advantage over hot and muggy ones.
  • A little rain is ok, but pass if there is going to be a lot of rain, save your vacation days for clearer sky’s.
  • Turkeys will stay on the roost, bed down, or seek shelter if the weather is really bad, you should too!
  • Don’t trust the weatherman, spring weather if volatile. Do your own research and keep your finger on the pulse of the radar when things look questionable, you can lose a lot of nice days in the spring if you go with what the weather man tells you.
  • Wind is a major factor, it impacts your ability to hear turkey’s and lessens their ability to hear you.
  • If you are going to hunt in the wind, you will have to get closer and call louder, and adjust your overall strategy.
  • The weather is your friend, not your enemy. Use it to improve your odds by selecting days that are ideal and passing on days that questionable.
  • Tick spray is a good idea in the spring, especially if it’s warm. Apply liberally, scent control is not an issue with turkeys. Here is the spray I use.

Show Notes:

A turkey vest is not the type of gear that will make you a more successful hunting, but it can make you a more comfortable and a more organized hunter. On today’s episode I talk all about the features and benefits of turkey vests and my experience hunting with and without them.

Take Aways:

  • Turkey vests encourage you to pack light, travel light, and ultimately carry less gear which means it is less taxing to hunt.
  • They have lots of pockets specifically designed for the most common types of turkey calls.
  • The better vests are engineered so you can access your regular calls and seat with little to no noise. They can very much help stealth.
  • The ones worth buying have attached seats that flip down so you can setup anywhere and at any time.
  • Nice features to look for are a built in orange flag you can deploy, padded back, fabric covered magnets to hold things closed and keep things quieter, padded shoulder straps, and a game pouch for game birds (or water, sandwiches, umbrellas, or extra clothes.)
  • Here is the vest that I use, but it has been discontinued. You can find a similar one here. But don’t just buy one offline without trying it on and getting a feel for it in person.

Show Notes:

No matter how you prefer to hunt turkeys, it is good to have options for when things end up being different from the ideal situation. On this episode I cover several advanced strategies for hunting spring gobblers. These are not strategies I recommend you lead with, but they are extra tools in your toolbox to help you up your game.

Take Aways:

  • Roosting birds can be a great technique for hard to hunt gobblers, and/or when you have the time and knowledge of the landscape to keep tabs on where birds spend their time and where they fly up to sleep.
  • Moving and calling can be a good way to shake things up when a bird gets stuck. Moving a little further and playing hard to get can be a great approach, as can moving side-to-side and calling.
  • Decoys are often just as much liability as benefit, but in certain situations, like with picky toms, or outside of a blind at a fields edge they can be helpful for sealing the deal. Just make sure if you do get some, you get ones that really look like turkeys.
  • Out calling hens is an approach where you try to beat the other hens in the woods at their own game by sounding like an entire flock of turkeys yourself. It’s risky but it can be a way to win a distracted gobblers attention.
  • Ambush hunting involves using your knowledge of a toms habits or making the best use of the available terrain to out do a wary bird, or one that does not answer to any calls.

 

Show Notes:

Field dressing and preparing a turkey to cook is a fast and easy process, it is something that any beginner can do and there is lots of margin for error. On today’s episode I talk about the actual process, how you can overcome any “yuck” factor, and the best way for beginners to approach cleaning a turkey. You do not need any special tools or skills, once you’ve shot the turkey the hard part is over. 

Take Aways:

  • Field dressing a is a misnomer, you do not need to do anything to a turkey in the field under normal circumstances.
  • If it is very hot and you have a long way to go home, then you can remove the entrails, wash out the bird, and stuff it with ice. 
  • Normally you can just take the bird home and prepare it there.
  • It is popular to pluck a turkey and preserve the skin to cook it whole. That is a great approach, but beginners do not need to invest that kind of time unless you want to.
  • The fastest way is to skin a turkey, then quarter it, and cook each quarter for separate meal. With this approach, you don’t even need to remove the guts.
  • A turkey is just like a big chicken once you start to work on it, thinking about it like that can help you get past any yuck factor.
  • Keep the beard and the fan, and use some borax and/or salt to dry out the little bit of skin still attached. 
  • The beard is a nice trophy. The fan is also a good trophy and it’s something you can use to decorate future decoys.
  • If you are a beginner then you do not need to keep the ends of the wings with the feathers, but some expert hunters do keep these to use for simulating turkey fly down sounds in the woods.

Field Dressing Videos:

Show Notes:

So much has been said and written about the best turkey hunting guns and shells that it can dizzy the head of anyone who hasn’t spent dozens of hours researching and experimenting.  On today’s episode I simplify things and focus in on the best shotguns and loads for beginners. You shouldn’t need a degree in turkey hunting firearms to get started with the sport, it’s a lot easier than most people make it sound.

Take Aways:

  • The best shotgun for turkey hunting is the one you can shoot the best. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 410 or a 10 gauge, what you are the most comfortable and most consistent with is the gun you should use.
  • The best place to start is with the shotgun you already have. Get into the woods and get some experience, that experience will guide you towards the shotgun that fits you best. Research cannot beat experience.
  • If you need to buy something, the best shotgun is a the most cost effective used one you can find. Again, get started, and get experience. If you can find something for $100, get that and get started.
  • Tried and true, cost effective, and mass produced pump shotguns are the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870. You cannot go wrong with either.
  • If you want a semi-automatic, I recommend the Mossberg 930. It’s cheap, easy to operate, rugged, and I’ve had 100% reliability. And no, Mossberg is not a sponsor of this podcast. 
  • If you have a choice between a wood stock and synthetic stock, get the synthetic. It takes less maintenance, it is more rugged, and you won’t feel bad about scratching it. If you want a show gun or a target gun get wood. If you are a new hunter, plastic makes your life easier.
  • You want a full choke for any shotgun you get. Extra full, or extra extra full can be helpful but you don’t need them to get started. They only provide incremental benefit over a regular full choke anyway.
  • Ideal turkey hunting distance is 25-35 yards. Practice for that, get gear for that.
  • It is very easy to underestimate range, if you practice for 50 yard shots you are likely to take 70 yard shots where there is almost no chance for success.
  • Get a 12 gauge shotgun, between target loads and magnum loads you will find shells that are a good fit for you, whether you need light recoil or want high power.
  • You want #6, #7, or #8 shot.  Bigger shot (smaller numbers) means there are fewer pellets in each shell, which means you have fewer chances to hit a turkey’s vitals.
  • Regular, cheap, #7.5 target loads of 2 3/4″ is all you need. Some of the most seasoned turkey hunters on the planet shoot that. And at 35 yards, it’s great.
  • If you want to go bigger, then #6 express loads that are 3″ are the biggest, most powerful that you need.
  • Do not pay more than $1 per shell, you do not need anything more expensive to get started.
  • More powerful shells create more recoil and more noise which means most hunters do not shoot them as accurately, consistently, or enjoyably. The benefits they provide are not worth trade off.
  • You want a shotgun that you can shoot effectively and enjoyably, with affordable shells that use small shot, while hunting at reasonable distances. 
  • Now get into the woods!

 

Show Notes:

Spring turkey hunting is an adrenaline filled game of skill and quick decisions. One thing every new hunter must have to play the game is a turkey call, and preferably more than one. On today’s episode I help you parse through the endless variety of turkey calls to settle on the best two options for new hunters. 

Take Aways:

  • The more common types of calls include box calls, mouth calls, pot calls, push-pull calls, and wing bone calls. Each has a use and can be the right call in a particular circumstance.
  • Each call is an instrument, some take more practice to get proficient with, and some can do things others can’t. 
  • It is best to have at least two calls with you because not all birds will respond to every call, and some sounds are easier to make on certain calls.
  • I recommend you start by getting a couple cheap calls, after you get your feet wet you will then be able to decide what you like and what fits your style and you can invest in better calls then. 
  • The best call for beginners is the box call, I think it is the easiest call to make high quality turkey sounds at ideal volume levels.
  • The second best call for beginners is the pot call. These come in slate, glass, crystal, aluminum, and probably more.
    • The simple slate is the cheapest and easiest for beginners to make a good turkey sound with. Here is a beginners Slate Call
  • The third best call for beginners is the push-pull call. This is the easiest call to make turkey sounds with by far.
    • But often the volume isn’t high enough to reach birds that are far off and there is really no way to make it quieter or louder. That is the only real downside, without that one drawback this would be number one.
    • But for some people, this may be a better fit for your first call. Here is an example of a beginners Push-Pull Call
  • A mouth call is perhaps the most difficult to master and I recommend beginners do not even touch one unless or until you get some real hunting experience and decide to pursue the sport.

 

Box Call Example Videos

 

Slate Call Example Videos

 

Push-Pull Call Example

Show Notes:

The right turkey hunting gear is more important and more appreciated than in almost any other type of hunting. A turkey hunter must be fully concealed, warm, mobile, nimble, have access to a wide variety of tools, silent, flexible, and able to excel in unexpected circumstances. On today’s episode, I talk about what kind of gear is needed for a beginner, and what you can do without to get started.

Take Aways:

  • You need full camo from head to toe, or at least ankle.
  • Remember turkeys can see all colors, you must not wear anything bright!
  • Never ever wear red, blue or white. These are the colors that a gobbler’s head can have on them in the spring, every hunter in the woods is looking to shoot at things this color.
  • Go with light but sturdy footwear that you can cover ground in. And wear Toe Warmers if it’s cold.
  • Have a pair of light camo gloves and a heavier pair so you can adjust based on temperature.
  • Get a cheap Camo Face Shroud that can cover your head, ears, face and neck.
  • You do not need a turkey vest to get started, but you do need pockets in your coat/jacket and pants.
  • A small camo, brown, or black backpack is usually needed until you can get a turkey vest.
  • You must have a seat to sit on. For mobile hunting get a Cheap Light Ground Cushion or a Deluxe Ground Cushion with Back.
  • For stationary hunting get a nice folding Turkey Ground Chair.
  • Always make sure you have your hunting license, turkey tag, a knife, and some string to attach the tag.
  • Water is worthy of mentioning, you may cover a lot of ground and it’s easy to forget to hydrate.

Show Notes:

To hunt turkeys you must find turkeys. Scouting is a critical part of spring gobbler hunting. On this episode, I talk about the 4 S’s of turkey scouting. These techniques will not just help you find turkeys but identify areas and tactics for optimal hunting. Scouting also gives you another great reason to get outside in the spring! 

Take Aways:

  • Stealth – Turkeys are easily spooked and it can take weeks for them to recover and return to their regular areas.
    • Make sure you are not seen or heard when scouting and do not enter into areas where you think birds are active.
    • Do not probe deeper into an area than you need to, once you identify where the birds are and where is good to hunt, get out and disturb as little as possible.

 

  • Sign – You can identify turkeys by sight, sound, tracks, droppings, feathers, scratching’s, strut zones, and dustings.
    • These birds are one of the easier types of game to locate as the season approaches because of their sounds and impact on the land.
    • A great times to go out scouting is 12-36 hours after a heavy rain, soft ground makes for more tracks and the dropping you find are likely to be fresher.

 

  • Sight-line – Watching your angles applies to scouting for birds, but it is very important when it comes to scouting for places to setup and hunt.
    • Ideally you want to limit a turkey’s ability to see you before it comes into shotgun range.
    • With every step you take, scouting and hunting, think where would you setup if a turkey were on it’s way to you. Always look for good cover, good angles and good spots.

 

  • Safety – As with all hunting, you need to know where your shot has the potential to end up.
    • Turkey’s create unique safety concerns because usually you hunt them on the ground but it is possible to take a shot in the air.
    • Be very mindful of whether it is advisable to take a shot at a flying bird every time you set up.
    • Also remember you want to keep yourself safe from other hunters, be cautious everything you hear, human footsteps and turkey steps can sound very similar. 

 

Show Notes:

Spring turkey hunting is fun, versatile, and exciting. No matter what your hunting style is, there is a strategy that is a good fit for you. Today I talk about the four major strategies for spring turkey hunting. This is not an exhaustive list, but most spring gobbler hunting approaches will fall under one of these main headings.

Take Aways:

  • The Blind Sit. This approach involves just picking a spot, going there, calling, and spending the morning hoping there are turkeys around that might come in to you. This works best when you have limit scouting time and limited hunting land.
    • A hunting blind can be helpful here.
  • Scout and Sit. A strategy that focuses on finding the best parcel and the best location before the season starts and then hunkering down and spending the morning in the spot you deemed to have the best prospects. This works best if you have enough time to scout and a good handle on the local turkey habits, or if you are unable or unwilling to cover a lot of ground. 
    • A hunting blind can be helpful here.
    • Finding where birds roost and then calling them down to you falls under this category.
  • Running and Gunning. This involves covering a lot of ground using a logging road, gas well road, or some kind of trail you can move quietly and easily on. You stop and call every few hundred yards hoping to strike up a conversation with a gobbler. This works best if you have a lot of land you can hunt, limited scouting time, or arrive in the woods later in the morning.
    • Some people like to use ATV’s for this. Whether it’s legal or not in your area, it destroys the peace of the woods and nullifies the best part of hunting. It is not the way of a true sportsman. 
  • Active Recon. This strategic approach involves getting to a high listening post early, listening for gobblers to sound off before flying down from the roost, weighing the options and moving to get ahead of where you think a bird is going, and then trying to call him into you. This works best if you have a significant amount of land, some hills, and area able to get in the woods before the gobblers wake up. 
    • In some states it is illegal to stalk turkey sounds. This approach is not doing that. It is orienting yourself in the woods to give you the best chance of calling a turkey to you. You are NOT listening for birds and trying to sneak up on them and shoot them, legal or not, that approach just doesn’t work anyway. 
  • There is no right way, wrong way, or best way. It is a matter of finding the best fit for you and the land you are able to hunt.