Why is the question everyone should ask themselves before they venture out on a turkey hunt. That’s not just in general but for each specific hunt. If you do not know the answer to that question, then how do you approach the hunt? How do you prepare for the hunt? My approach changes if I’m with a group of hunters, if we are filming, if I am taking someone for their first time, if I am taking a child, if I am taking someone who is physically limited. There are a variety of factors that change my approach. If you think about that before you go, it will help with your success.
I hunt turkeys because I like the chess match of calling them into me. I love chasing a turkey off the roost and calling back and forth with him for hours. I like the competition part of it. Mankind has been competing since the beginning of time and it’s a desire in everyone whether they think it is or isn’t. The competition makes me appreciate everything about the hunt. It makes me appreciate the animal, the land, the weather, and my own physical and mental abilities. Most of the time I am beaten in turkey hunting by one of those factors.
I also like to eat wild turkey, more than any other wild game, but that’s not my focus of the hunt. I’m not hunting for food only; that’s just a wonderful bonus.
My approach is to hang a few hundred yards away from a roosted turkey and try to get him to work towards me once he hits the ground. When I first started hunting, it was all about being successful and bagging a bird. I would try to get as close as I could off the roost, and the majority of the time, I would push the issue and get too close.
It took some reflection on a particular hunt and a conversation with an old timer that made me question what I really wanted out of the hunt. I was hunting a piece of public ground a few years ago and got above a turkey that was gobbling hard on the roost. He was roosted 50 yards from a running creek and he was in some thick trees. The thick cover he was in and the running creek allowed me to set up extremely close to him. I made a couple small tree yelps and he cut me off. I purred once when I thought it was fly down time, and he pitched out of the tree and landed 15 yards from me and I shot him. I was excited, don’t get me wrong, but the hunt ended in a matter of a few minutes. I wished it would have lasted longer. That hunt made me realize I like the competition more than the kill.
I love the art of calling turkeys more than anything in the hunting world. I relish the fact that I have mastered a tool to deceive one of the wariest game species there is. My favorite way to call is using a mouth call, because it’s the hardest turkey call to master. The variety of calls and inflection I can make using a mouth call makes it the most diverse tool in my turkey vest. To prepare for the hunt, I make sure I have several different mouth calls, so I am not limited to just what I have in the console of my truck or what call I have left in my vest.
My approach is ever changing depending on the situation, but I think about that approach before I go out. It allows me to be successful whether I shoot a turkey or not.