Virginia has had its fair share of snow this winter, which has only added to my impatience to get in the woods and hear the bellowing sound of gobbling from a Tom’s early morning roost. I’ve been hunting these alert and wary birds for more than twenty years, which has allowed me time to develop strategies to hunt this keen sighted adversary; strategies such as scouting, being familiar with your weapon, proper camo, calls and last, but not least, understanding the vocabulary of turkeys. These are all mechanisms of the hunt.
The hunt actually starts before opening day with scouting. When I mention scouting, I’m referring not only to finding signs such as scratching or dusting bowls, or even the bird itself. I’m talking about knowing the lay out of the land. It is valuable to have a picture in your mind of where the obstacles are such as creeks, ravines, or dead falls that could impede a gobbler’s route causing him to hang up.
Also before season, make sure you’re familiar with the performance of your gun. You need to know its pattern density and range. I take several practice shots with my Remington 870’s. They deliver tight patterns out to 40 yards using an H.S. Strut Undertaker choke and Winchester high velocity #4 turkey loads in 3 and 3.5 inch.
This bird has very keen eyesight. He can detect things that don’t look natural and can see the slightest movement. For this reason, some people hunt from ground blinds, which conceal some movement. This is a great tool, especially for beginners, but if you like to run and gun to be more mobile like I do, take advantage of today’s camo patterns which are so realistic it’s like wearing a blind. I’ve been using the same Mossy Oak camo sets for 15 years.
Next, selecting the right turkey calls can be confusing because of all the choices. But, this can be simplified by realizing that there are basically 3 types of calls. There are box calls, striker calls, which are also known as slate calls, and of course, the most difficult to master – diaphragm calls. If I were to tell a beginner what to have in his arsenal of calls, they would be a Primos Box Cutter, Cody Slate call and if one had the time learn, an H. S. Strut single or double reed diaphragm call would be a good choice. The off season is the time that should be used to practice the sounds and calls of the wild turkey. Having a conversation with a bird because you practiced all winter can be the most satisfying part of the hunt, not to mention the confidence it builds in yourself as a turkey hunter.