Turkey hunting is tough. Rarely will you find a freebie when it comes to chasing the orneriest game bird to ever walk the earth. Opportunities to notch a tag on this majestic bird come few and far between. For many turkey hunters, encounters with a longbeard seldom come due to self-inflicted mistakes that tip the odds in a gobbler’s favor. What are these mistakes? And more importantly, how do you avoid them this spring?
Here’s a look at 5 ways you’ll easily blow your turkey hunt in the first hour.
1.You Blow it at the Roost
For many hunters, the struggle to slap the snooze button is a beast. And a little extra sleep leads to you showing up late for your hunt. Some hunters have the wherewithal to hold back and listen from a distance when they show up to the farm late. Others hustle right in to get as close as possible to the roost, despite being on the losing side of daybreak. It’s a move that never goes well. If your plan is to tuck in tight to roosted turkeys, you better get there long before the day begins to break. Otherwise you’ll be scattering turkeys in every direction as you spook the flock from the roost.
Knowing where a longbeard flies up for the night is a huge advantage for the following morning. Don’t gamble with the opportunity here. Get in early so you don’t blow it at the roost.
2. You Blow it With Your Setup
The only thing better than knowing where a turkey is roosted, is knowing where he’s headed when his feet hit the ground. Far too many roost hunts are blown when the flock sails down in the opposite direction. It’s frustrating, but it happens more times than not. Your best option is to be where a turkey is headed for the first stop or two of the morning.
Calling a turkey back to where he’s already left, or trying to play catch-up to the flock, can be super difficult. Your best bet is to make sure you are ahead of the flock with your setup. Intel of this caliber will take time and experience to discover, but once you do, your opportunities for success will rise to a new level.
3. You Blow it With Your Calls
Some hunters blow it the first time they open their mouth to call. Maybe you’ve hunted with a buddy like this. You’re pretty certain their calls are sending the flock in every direction but yours. But even the hunter with decent calling skills can blow the hunt with a medley of ill-timed turkey talk. Knowing what to say, and when to say it, can be tough. Experience is the best teacher. Many hunters make the mistake of calling too loud and calling too often. Back in the day, this wasn’t as much of an issue as it is today. Hunting and calling pressure has changed the game these days. You can bet most every bird in town has heard the sound of a box call, crow call, or hoot flute.
Less can be more when it comes to a subtle calling approach. Consider the flock talk you hear from live birds. Rarely will you hear the hens blasting a continual raucous of calls. Soft and subtle is the norm. Let the gobbler know you’re there for the party, then shut up. Add more to the mix if you’re competing with a feisty hen, but let the gobbler’s response be your gauge when it comes to your volume
4. You Blow it With Your Lack of Patience
Patience kills more turkeys than any call or decoy out there. Learn to keep your back side against the tree for extended periods of time, and you’ll kill more turkeys – guaranteed. However, this is easier said than done. The temptation to pick up and move toward a gobbling, or silent, turkey is more than most turkey hunters can bear.
Runnin’ and gunnin’ for turkeys is far more favorable than the waiting game. But many of the deadliest turkey hunters out there have learned, patience is the key to killing more birds. Seldom does the hurried, make-something-happen mindset pay off with a notched turkey tag. Slow down, take your time, and let patience work in your favor.
5. You Blow it by Rushing the Shot
Everything mentioned above can go perfect, and you’ll still find yourself walking out of the woods without a turkey over your shoulder if you blow it by rushing the shot. It happens every year to the best turkey hunters in the business. Rushing the shot is one of the most common sins the turkey hunter commits each spring. It happens for a multitude of reasons. We get caught off guard. We think the bird is going to leave. We panic. We send the shot, even when we know the time is not right. It’s a hope-and-prayer Hail Mary that rarely goes right. For many, a rushed shot is a means of dumping the adrenaline that’s raging through their body. They panic and turn the shot loose. It’s a classic example of the fight or flight scenario we are faced with in high stress situations.
Slow down. Take a deep breath. Commit to fight through it, and make a high percentage shot. Avoid the temptation to make a rushed shot, even when your heart is pounding so hard you feel it in your ears. Rushed shots rarely result in notched turkey tags. Take your time, and make your shot count this spring.
Successful turkey hunters have learned to overcome the mistakes mentioned above. Sure, old habits will try and creep back in every spring. But for the hunter committed to keeping their cool under pressure, making the best setups where turkeys want to be, and knowing when to call and when to keep quiet, turkey tags will be filled. Don’t blow it in the turkey woods this spring! Slow down, be patient, and enjoy the journey.