You Can Learn to Hunt Turkeys with No Experience and Without Knowing Any Turkey Hunters
Editor’s Note: Avid outdoorsman Jerry Lambert of Battle Creek, Michigan, has been hunting turkeys for 15 years and has been a Mossy Oak Pro Staffer for 7 years.
We didn’t have huntable populations of turkeys in my area until about 15-years ago. I’d never hunted turkeys before, I didn’t know how to hunt turkeys, and I didn’t know anyone who hunted turkeys. So, I had to learn to turkey hunt on my own. I read books on turkey hunting and watched video tapes. I bought a Primos push button turkey call and went out into the woods to try and call turkeys. One morning during turkey season, I went out in the woods and heard a turkey gobble. I started calling to the turkey with my push button call, and that tom gobbled back to my call. Every time I would call, he’d gobble. Finally, I quit gobbling to him, and he quit gobbling. Twenty minutes later I saw him. That gobbler came in looking for me, and I took the shot. Ever since that first morning, I've been turkey hunting.
I'm an avid reader. So, I read everything that I could find about turkey hunting. You could say I went to college on turkey hunting. Once I called in that first turkey, I totally understood why people hunted turkeys. I couldn’t believe how exciting interacting with a wild turkey gobbler was – to call to him and that bird talk back to you. Then if you were lucky, that wild gobbler would come looking for you.
A few years after I got my first gobbler, I took my brother, Joe, turkey hunting with me. He never had been turkey hunting either. We got into a flock of toms in the low country that would gobble to every call we made, but they never would come in to my calling. Eventually, they walked away from us, and I thought to myself, “My brother didn’t get to see a turkey, and he didn’t get to shoot a turkey. I know he’ll be disappointed.” But quite the opposite happened. He saw how I was interacting with the turkeys, and he really got excited. Even though he didn’t see or shoot a turkey, he got hooked on turkey hunting also.
If you’re reading this article, and you don’t know anyone else who turkey hunts but want to learn yourself, here’s what I suggest you do this spring:
- Read as much as you can about turkey hunting.
- Get out in the woods before the season, and start scouting for turkeys, just like you'll scout for deer. If you’ve done your homework, you should know what a roosting site, turkey droppings and a strut zone looks like. More than likely, you'll hear a turkey gobble if you cover enough ground. Also, search for turkey feathers.
- Buy a push button call - the easiest call made to imitate the sound of a hen turkey. All you have to do is push the button, and the push button call will make a yelp. More than likely, the salesman in the sporting-goods store can show you how to cluck, purr and even cackle on a push button call. However, if you just learn how to make a basic yelp, you still can call a turkey.
- Dress in Mossy Oak camouflage, including hat, face mask, gloves, pants and shirt on opening day of turkey season, and listen for a turkey to gobble.
- Find a place to sit down, and call to a tom. When the turkey gobbles, then you know that you can speak the language of the wild turkey, because he’s answered you when you’ve called. Now all you have to do is to convince him to come see you. Sometimes you win, and sometimes the turkey wins, but at least you’ve had a conversation with one of the smartest critters in the woods.
I hunt both public and private lands. Here in Michigan we have a Youth Turkey Hunt at Fort Custer, which is public land. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the National Guard sponsor this youth hunt. Each year I guide one of the young hunters on a turkey hunt. So, I scout that public land to try and help my youngster be successful, but most of the places I hunt turkeys are on private land.
I'm an outdoor writer, and I write regularly for “Woods-N-Water Outdoor News.” I have published two books on Kindle and CreateSpace, including “The Hunting Spirit." This book has numbers of turkey hunting stories in it. Because of my writing, I was invited to participate in the Youth Hunt. I've been participating in this program for quite a few years. I believe that youth hunts and volunteering for youth hunts is a great way to bring youngsters into our sport. I try to teach the youngsters how to scout, what to look for, and how to use their calls.