Turkey nuggets are many people’s favorite part of taking home a turkey, but what is the best way to cook them? Well, I do not think there is a “best” way but there are lots of great ways to do it depending on what you like. On this episode I share five different ways to cook and prepare this spring delicacy. 

Turkey nuggets are almost always fried, but there are many ways to fry a good nugget and there are other ways they can be cooked.

  • Deep frying is the most common approach, this involves using enough hot oil to completely submerge the nuggets in some kind of a pan or pot.
  • Pan frying is another option that requires enough oil too to partially submerge the nuggets in the pan and then flipping them halfway through cooking.
  • After this you have the sauté method that requires a small amount of oil or butter. This is one of the only cooking techniques that you can use butter for. Here you end up with a little bit of a healthier product and possibly more flavorful, but it does not have that regular deep fried nugget texture.
  • The next way too cook turkey nuggets is with an air fryer. These contraptions are very useful, but they take up a lot of space and are harder to clean. Here you can use very minimal amounts of oil and a much more controlled cooking environment that will enable you to find a good recipe and replicate it easier every single time. But there are those downsides which I mentioned.
  • The last technique is the sear method. Rarely used for nuggets because you are not able to use much breading, searing the nuggets can still product a very flavorful dinner but this technique needs a little moisture to shine its brightest. So, consider pairing it with a sauce, such as a blueberry wine sauce, finished with a little butter. More details are in the episode.

Beyond the actual cooking technique, you have a variety of breading approaches that you can pair with each, such as dipping in flour, using milk or egg wash to get more flour to stick, or even double breading them. You can use corn starch instead of flour, breadcrumbs, or gluten free flour as well. Some people will dry dip the meat into corn starch, then dip it in buttermilk before dipping into flour. 

Every breading method has pros and cons, I personally prefer less breading because I don’t want it to soak up too much oil and initiate a bad post meal experience…

Listen to the entire podcast episode for all of the detials!

Is it possible to improve the turkey population in your local area by actually hunting more? Well, yes, yes, it is. But it’s not what you think. Killing more turkeys won’t result in a bigger turkey population, but hunting and trapping turkey predators that have grown to out of balance proportions in your area can make a difference. 

Depending on where you live, predators like coyotes, foxes, raccoons, crows, possums and other predators may be overpopulated and causing undue issues with the turkey population, and potentially the populations of other game animals. Hunting or trapping these overpopulated predators can improve the wildlife balance and give turkeys better odds at survival.

Turkeys are especially susceptible to predators when they are young and unable to fly. They are in even more danger as eggs, before they hatch when almost anything from crows to raccoons can eat an entire nest. After they survive their first winter, they are much hardier. But making it to that point can be very difficult if the predator population is out of balance.

Coyotes are one of the most widespread problems nationally as their populations have been expanding unchecked in many areas. They can not only kill turkeys but also drive them out of ideal habitat which impacts their ability to survive in other ways. If you and a group of friends are able to exert concerted efforts to hunt or trap these kinds of predators you can make significant difference in your area. But it may take some sustained effort before it pays off.

You need to learn about your local wildlife and identify what populations are out of balance first. Going after foxes for example if the fox population is average or below average will not help, in fact it could cause other issues. We do not want to kill all predators, we only want to help restore population balance, especially when the populations have gotten out of balance due to manmade situations, which is often the case.

Then you need to study your local hunting and trapping laws to see what your options are. For many of these animals, trapping is more efficient and easier than hunting. Particularly with racoons and coyotes. Whatever efforts you may take, stay safe, legal, and ethical in all that you do.

If turkeys are not gobbling, moving, or in any way detectible, how do you hunt them and salvage your season? In this episode I dig into the details of how to hunt gobblers when all else fails.

If turkeys are gobbling and not coming in that is one set of challenges, but this is different. This is when all the turkeys seem to completely disappear from the woods and you cannot find any action anywhere. I’ve been there. The answer is simple, but not easy. You have to change your mindset and your tactics from turkey hunting to turkey finding.

Set out looking for birds and sign, similar to pre-season scouting but unique in that you are looking for concentrated movement areas that you can then setup in as if you were ambush hunting. I like to start in the low lands, where there are streams, puddles and soft ground where turkeys will leave tracks. I am not just looking for a stray track here and there but lots of regular fresh tracks that will let me know that lots of birds come through this area on a regular basis and spend time eating, socializing, or trying to find mates in this spot.

The goal of this scouting is to locate areas that have birds that you can come back and hunt, but you also want to move quietly. After all the season is on and you have a shotgun, you do not want to disturb the birds that you discover since you plan to hunt them that day or the next. Instead you want to move quietly, gun in hand but being careful to analyze the ground and watching for turkeys on the other side of every hill you crest and every field you move into.

When nothing is working, you come to feel like there are no birds in the woods and it can be very discouraging, but if you can find the birds, and fresh sign, it will put wind in your sails and motivate you to get out and get after the birds. 

Also keep in mind that as the season goes on, the habits of birds can change. As one area grows up it may push birds into other areas. So a spot that is cold today could warm up in a week or two or three. Do not abandon historically good areas but diversify where you spend your time. Perhaps rotate between spots in order to keep on top of places that might heat up later but do not spend your entire turkey season in a spot with no action.

Listen to the whole podcast episode for all of the details!

How effective is modern TSS turkey ammo in the hands of the average hunter with the average choke tube? Is TSS always better than lead and worth the extra cost? How far out is TSS turkey ammo effective for turkey hunting? What is the maximum range for tungsten super shot turkey loads? In this episode I answer all of these questions and more, with actual data from my own testing. 

I recently tested seven different brands of TSS turkey hunting ammo as well as several brands of lead turkey ammo and put together a large overarching analysis of the marketplace, including Federal Premium TSS, HEVI-Shot HEVI-18, Remington Premier TSS, Fiocchi Golden Turkey TSS, Herters TSS, APEX TSS, and BOSS Tom TSS. I have also recently tested Winchester Longbeard XR, Remington Nitro Turkey, and numerous others.

I have done test videos at 50 yards and 100 yards with all the TSS loads, including ballistics gel testing. I will not get into all the details and minutia here in these show notes, but I will share one chart below along with the key take aways from numerous test.

Here are several key take aways from this testing.

First, the most expensive TSS loads were not the best performers, not even close. In fact, lead outperformed some of the more expensive loads under the conditions and at the ranges tested.

Second, some of the cheapest loads produced amazing results, above and beyond the call of duty with only average choke tubes and setups.

Third, depending on the brand and choke combo, you would get better results from lead ammo, thus totally nullifying any reason to use the TSS. However, the opposite is also sometimes true. Some brands produced results that were so great you could tailor the load to any hunting situation with unparallelled performance.

Fouth, TSS may or may not be worth paying for depending on your objectives and hunting situation. Tungsten super shot is potent stuff but for close range hunting, it provides few advantages to lead, especially considering the incredible cost.

Fifth, hunters tend to over choke their ammo, primarily TSS. This results in spending way too much money to find the best possible combination of ammo, choke, and shotgun in order to get maximum pattern density at long range. The issue is that most turkeys are not shot at long range, and hunters are missing too many short shots with the hope of making a rare long shot.

Sixth, the greatest value of TSS turkey hunting ammo is that it provides the most margin of error at the greatest span of effective ranges, perhaps 20 yards to 60 yards. Lead can be geared for short, medium, or long range, but an average turkey choke enables TSS to be viable at all three. Yet most hunters are choking only for ultra long range which is not ideal for maximizing your ability to capitalize on the greatest possible number of hunting opportunities.

Seventh, nothing is effective at 100 yards, it is an utter waste of time. Don’t attempt crazy shots like this, it’s a waste of money at best, and something that may wound turkeys at worst. But it is not going to kill turkeys, there is not enough ballistic energy left to do it.  And if you use larger shot, there isn’t enough pattern density left to even hit the birds. 

Listen to this whole podcast episode AND watch the videos for all the data and insights. 

A blunder is a big obtuse mistake that can be easily avoided. If you are making turkey hunting blunders, there is good news. It may be easy for you to stop doing things that are costing you gobblers. In this episode I call out seven big turkey hunting blunders and how to fix them! Tetra Hearing protection – Get 10% off with the code: NHG2410

Hare are 7 top turkey hunting blunders that you need to stop right now!

  1. Not testing your gear. This has to do with shotguns and patterning yes, but also shoes, boots, base layers, calls, decoys and more. Remember, you are going to be walking into the woods often in complete darkness and needing to operate everything without turning on a light. What you wear must be comfortable. What you need to setup and operate must be simple and intuitive. You need to be able to be effective, quiet, and fast at doing complex things in the dark. You will have to work with your gear in advance to be able to do this well.
  2. Not being stealthy enough. So many turkey hunters make too much noise, fidget too much, and walk openly in the wrong places and at the wrong times. Turkeys have great ears and great eyes; they are birds after all. Stealth while turkey hunting is paramount. You need to be very quiet and still at all times. This more like deer hunting than it is duck hunting from a blind while telling jokes and cooking breakfast. The turkeys could be feet away from you without you even knowing it.  
  3. Not scouting. You cannot hunt turkeys if there are no turkeys in the area. You must find birds before hunting can be effective. So many turkey hunters spend the first few “hunts” of the season doing little more than scouting, trying to find the birds they should have looked for before the season began. You need to get out and find the birds you want to hunt. Get some binoculars, a crow call, maybe some cheap trail cameras and scout before you hunt. Your hunting will be much better for it!
  4. Not being patient when you have scouted. Lots of turkey hunters are quick to move on out of an area if they don’t encounter action early on. There are times this is the right thing to do, but if you have scouted an area and know there are regularly birds around, then you need to sit tight, focus, and trust your scouting to put you in the right area. If you know birds come through during the morning most days, this will give you the faith you need to sit still and keep focused on the hunt. And well informed patience will be rewarded.

Listen to the whole podcast episode to get more details and find out what all seven turkey hunting blunders are.

Are you taking turkey hunting shortcuts? Most people may think not, but there is good news if you are willing to honestly examine yourself. If you can identify and stop taking shortcuts, you can start taking more turkeys out of the woods and be more effective. In this episode I break down 10 different shortcuts that hunters are taking.

Here are some turkey hunting shortcuts that you need to stop taking right away:

  1. Not patterning your gun. This is a major issue. Too many people just get a shotgun, choke, or maybe new ammo and go right into the woods. You need to shoot that combination at paper at the ranges you plan to hunt to find out where the point of impact is and what the pattern looks like. If you do not test it you can easily find yourself in the field missing a turkey because your range or pattern were not as good as you hoped. 
  2. Not practicing your calls. You need to use each one of your calls before turkey season starts, not just to become a better musician with them but to make sure they all still work, sound properly and you can do any maintenance that is needed before you are in the woods. Take everything out before season and make sure it all works and sounds right. For getting to chalk a box call, or finding a call is broken, or not surfaced right in the field can be a major issue. Finding out the day before can make all the difference.
  3. Not practicing shooting from a sitting position. The moment you sit down, you change your body position, how you mount a shotgun, and potentially where your pattern goes. You need to practice firing from a seated position, and not just a comfortable seated position. A good drill to do is walk out about 20-35 yards from some targets, clay discs on a hillside works well, and close your eyes and spin around a few times in a circle and then sit down. Open your eyes and try to hit the targets without getting up or changing position. You will have to twist, bend, contort, etc to get on target, and this is very similar to shooting at a turkey that comes in from an unexpected direction. 
  4. Not sitting in your spot before the hunt. Scouting is one thing but sitting in your spot before you hunt there is another. The biggest issue people run into is they walk up to a tree and sit down and setup in the dark, only to realize they can hardly see anything once the sun comes up. A little bit of preparation goes a long way, especially if you are in an area where it is difficult to move once it is daylight because turkeys may see you. When possible, you should test out and prepare your spot in advance, removing leaves, twigs or other debris that might cause you to make extra noise in the spot. 

Listen to the whole podcast episode for more detail and to hear about the rest of the 10 turkey hunting shortcuts that you need to stop taking right now.

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!