Turkey Hunting 101
By Matthew Streim | PUBLISHED March 1st, 2022
Deer season has ended, small game and shed hunting are over, and the long wait until next deer season has begun. That is true if you don’t turkey hunt! There are a lot of things that can be accomplished during turkey season that can make you a better hunter overall. And killing gobblers is always a plus!
This is a write-up for the beginner turkey hunter. I will give you the bare bone necessities of what it will take to get you out in the spring, chasing these incredible, fun-to-hunt birds.
It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, you cannot hunt without a tag! Do your due diligence and secure your tag before hunting. All states have different rules. Some have a pre-season draw, others have over-the-counter tags, different hunting periods, etc. Read the rules and regulations before entering the woods. Now that the very important and sometimes obvious rules are out of the way, let’s get to hunting.
There are two choices when it comes to harvesting a gobbler. Simply, a bow or a shotgun. The tactics are a lot different depending on which weapon you choose. Since this is for the first-timer, I will cover shotguns. A 12 gauge shotgun is the most common and arguably the most popular. It packs plenty of punch and most hunters own at least one. You don’t need anything fancy. I, personally, run an all black Mossberg pump action. I do recommend a minimum of a full choke, but turkey choke is preferred. As for ammo, given the current climate, take what you can get when it comes to turkey loads. Finally, make sure you practice. You’re not going to be ethically shooting at birds over 40 yards away, so don’t practice beyond that distance. Most shots should be 25 yards and under.
You are ¾ of the way there if you early season bow hunt. There are high end and cheaper camo options. Both allow you to kill birds. Try your best to watch color combinations where you are hunting. Keep in mind that turkey eyesight is a heck of a lot better than deer. Also, don’t worry about scent-free clothing. You will sweat and lucky for you, turkeys can’t smell.
This section is geared towards the basic gear needed to hunt turkey. I could talk for days on technique-specific tactics and the gear needed but for this, there are only a few important things you need to remember. You will need at least one call. There are several different types; pot, mouth, box, etc. Pick out a few different types and practice using them. It will help. Decoys will also help you out. There are thousands out there, all at a different price point, but if you are to buy only one, then I suggest a feeding hen. Super simple and the least aggressive of the decoys. This sums up the basic gear needed.
This is one section that I will touch on briefly. Whether on public or private land, birds are everywhere. I hunt both types of land for gobblers. It’s as simple as that. Side note: Landowners are, in my experience, more
open to allowing hunters on their land during spring turkey season. Keep that in the back of your mind.
I tried to make this pretty basic so as to not overwhelm the new hunter. Turkey season is one of my favorite seasons to hunt, not only for killing birds, but it’s a great way to scout new land, hone in on some new skills for the fall, and just to get back to the woods. Just remember, don’t get frustrated. No one is perfect. The experience is sometimes better than the harvest.
Good luck and stay safe,