Let me start by saying I’m no expert when it comes to turkey hunting, although I’ve had a lot of success over the years, I’ve walked away empty handed more times than not. So much so that I have noticed a pattern in success vs no success. Those patterns are highlighted in this handy top 5 Do’s and Don’ts for someone who is just starting out!
I make it a point to “begin” my season as soon as those birds start stirring around and hitting open fields in the early days of spring. Now we all know of that one guy, or girl who went out the first day, picked a good spot and tagged out just after daylight. That is pretty lucky, but not the norm. If you want to increase your chances of success, put in the time. Ahhh...Time. Time seems to be harder to come by these days (at least for me), one way I’ve managed to squeeze in some scouting is to change up my commute home from work, and keep my binos and boots in the truck.
I don't know if this is a proven fact, but turkeys respond to pressure just like deer. At least on the properties I hunt. I try to keep my distance, utilize my glass, and see as much from a far as possible. Treat them like deer, don't go busting into their bedroom! They will leave, and move somewhere they aren't being bothered. Unfortunately for you, that may be a place you can't go! Don't get to overzealous in your pre-season, it may turn your honey hole, into a wasteland!
As a beginner, I know you probably don’t want to drop a ton of cash on what may turn out to be a flop. (Ha) But trust me, the difference between a good quality call, and a cheap one, may mean the difference between you walking to the truck with a bird over your shoulder, or a pocket full of unfilled tags. While we are on the subject of calls, Youtube is a great place to learn how to call. Research and practice with the call you choose as much as possible. You'll thank me later. This brings me to my next don't.
Calling in a turkey is one of the most rewarding parts of hunting them, sometimes more than the kill! BUT improper calling is probably more responsible for unsuccessful hunts, than anything else (in my opinion.) When a tom gobbles, he fully expects the hen (you) to come to him. That is the way it's supposed to be, until we got the bright idea to expose his most vulnerable weakness during the spring. He wants to breed! If hes screaming “here I am” and you keep calling and never show up, he will get bored and move on. Expose his weakness, make him come to you. If he knows you’re there, but you're not talking much to him, he will get frustrated and come to you. Not so different than people when you think about it. So don’t be over aggressive in your calling, be appealing! Make him come to you, it’s better that way (Am I right ladies?!)
Don't take that the wrong way. I'm not hoping you will fail, but it's inevitable, so instead of avoiding it, we may as well learn from it! Now I tend to be somewhat of a turkey maniac for a few months of the year (okay, all year) but! I have learned to write down everything. Take notes on what you saw, where, when, the weather etc. The more information you can gather about what you are chasing, the more effective you will be. The most important part of failure is the ability to apply that information the next time, so while you may feel defeated after an unsuccessful hunt, or like you'll never be as good as you want to be, stay positive and know that you are now more dangerous than you were that morning. From calling, to how you were set up, where they roosted that day, take notes, and turn all of that into the reason you end your season with meat in the freezer.
So that’s my list. I hope you are able to get on your first Spring Gobbler! If you're anything like me, it's a feeling you will never forget! Before I go, there is one more piece of advice I have, and it's the most important DO that I can give you if you are just starting out.