Improve your odd of success with these three turkey hunting strategies
By Will Bowen | PUBLISHED February 24th, 2023
Turkey season will be here before you know it, and with it will come an odd mixture of frustration and crazy fun. That’s just how turkey hunting is. Having a bird gobble like crazy off the roost and then pitch right down in the middle of your setup often makes you think “wow, this is too easy”. But how often does that actually happen? My average turkey hunt consists of locating a bird on the roost, him flying down the opposite direction, him shutting up, and me wandering aimlessly for the rest of the morning. That is the 99% scenario.
But even through these crazy, albeit made up, odds, turkeys can still be killed. Considering my age and the area I was raised I haven’t killed as many birds as the older, seasoned vets. I have killed a good handful though and have learned a mighty amount in my efforts. It all amounts to this: Turkey hunting is all about patience and thoroughness.
Are you looking to put the odds in your favor this season? Well, I’m going to tell you that the odds are never truly in your favor while turkey hunting but there are some things you can do to increase them. Here are three things you must do to up your odds at a gobbler this year.
Don’t Get Lazy on Your Preseason Scouting
Every turkey hunter says they scout the preseason, but do they really? Making one trip to the farm and hearing one bird gobble is considered scouting as much as hitting a baseball off a tee is considered playing for the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s not. When it comes to preseason scouting for turkeys, I like to break it down into four phases.
E-Scouting: I like to get a good look at the areas I’m going to hunt this upcoming season, whether they are public or private land. Utilizing online mapping services like Spartan Forge, OnX, or HuntStand will help you identify food sources, possible strut zones, and water. E-scouting is always a great place to start.
Scouting from the Truck: I like to get a gross look at the area from the available roads. When you get a chance, take a little time to drive these areas. This is a good opportunity to lay eyes on birds. I’ve actually found groups of birds while on my route for work and hunted them later, successfully I might add.
Listening at Daylight: This is my favorite thing to do in the preseason. Getting out before work and listening from a couple of knobs or county road pull-offs is incredibly beneficial. Not only will you have the chance to find a bird, you’ll have the chance to find multiple. This will make up your plan A, B, and C for opening day.
Low Intrusion Walking: Now you can dive in and walk the areas where you don’t expect to bump birds. I like fields for this step. Look for tracks, scratchings, and droppings. This might tell you where gobblers are spending the better parts of their morning.
Call Well but Don’t Necessarily Call Often
I am not a great turkey caller. I’m good enough, but not much more. A lot of turkey hunters are in the same boat, and I feel the best way to maximize my calling potential is to only call when absolutely necessary. The less vocalizations I make the less likely I am to make a Tom nervous or alert him that he is being hunted.
If you hunt public woods you’ll notice that there are a lot of guys out there that will just hammer down on a call. Calling softly and sparingly will set you apart, especially if it’s later in the season and the gobblers have already been assaulted for the majority of the season. I’ve learned this from my dad, and trust me I’ve witnessed him call in multiple birds with a couple 2-3 note yelps. That is all it takes when everything is right.
You Have to Hunt …… A Lot
This is the most obvious point I can lay out for you. I almost feel ashamed to label this as a point for this article, but I’ve decided that it’s absolutely right. I don’t know a single turkey hunter that couldn’t have hunted more last year, even if it was just a couple hours. That might be all that was needed to punch a tag.
More time in the woods means more chances at success. If possible, be in the woods as many mornings as you can and for as long as you can. It’s simple math. But remember don’t turn turkey hunting into a chore, because that’s when it becomes the most frustrating and stops being fun. Be out there because you want to be, not to punch a tag like a robot.
Being the Okayest Turkey Hunter is totally alright, Heck, turkeys often have no problem making even the best, most seasoned hunters look like the Okayest Hunter. It’s not always you, it’s often that pea-brained bird. That’s what makes it fun. Chasing a psychic bird can be the most frustrating, yet most rewarding thing you can do in the spring, and if you want to even the odds try taking the previous points into consideration. Good luck this spring!