Real Canadian Bowhunters Founder
Wild Turkey hunting is fun, exciting, interactive and one of the most enjoyable species to hunt. Whether you are seated against a tree, or behind the cover of a blind, when you hear that distinctive "Gobble," from the distance. It is an immediate heart pounding experience as the hunt has begun.
However, this is where things cant get complicated, especially for a new hunter. Over the past few years, I have harvested several wild turkey with shotgun and bow, being lucky enough to harvest birds in Southern Ontario and Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, I have learned a few things along the way. I am hoping that by relaying some of my experiences it will help you become a better hunter and hopefully you will avoid making the same mistakes. This is my advice:
Almost every turkey I have harvested has been within the first few hours of the morning. As turkeys roost at night, they will fly down from the trees in the morning. It is important to scout pre-season, observe turkey patterns and roosting behaviour. This can be done by keeping distance and using binoculars or setting up trail cameras. Get out early in the morning and set up before daylight, before the birds hit the ground.
While turkey hunting, cover is one of the most important things you can do to have a successful hunt. This becomes more important when hunting with a bow, as opposed to a shotgun. Wild turkey have amazing eyesight and you can be burned very quickly. Stealth is the key. The first time I hunted with a bow, I was using my a crossbow, sitting against a tree, perfectly blending in to my surroundings. Out walked a large gobbler with at a 10" beard. It started 100 yards away and was quickly working his way towards my decoys. As the bird inched closer, I lifted my bow in preperation of him hitting the decoys...or so I thought. Unknown to me, the turkey had spotted my movement, paused and bolted in the opposite direction never to be seen again. In another early morning hunt, while hunting with a partner, he became excited over a large Gobbler that strutted from the bush to the open field. He lifted his arms in excitement and starting pointing at the turkey to alert me. It was over, we were spotted and he was gone! I would recommend hunting from concealment. Whether its a tent, or a homemade blind, this will allow you to move more freely, keeping your movements hidden which will assistance in a successful hunt and hopefully cover any mistakes you may make sitting in the open.
In my opinion, calling and interacting with a Wild Turkey is one of the best aspects of turkey hunting. It is like no other experience. To have the ability to bring in a Gobbler and close the deal is pure excitement. There are so many products on the market from Box calls, slate calls, mouth calls and owl calls, which can be over whelming. Being new to the sport, I would recommend a basic box or slate call to start and practice, practice, practice. Again, while hunting with a buddy, a group of wild turkey were working their way towards our blind then hung up. As I was watching, I heard an awful noise ring out from behind the blind. It was over, the turkeys fled in the opposite direction. I immediately turned and notice my buddy, a new hunter.... whom had never, ever made a call, decided that was the perfect opportunity to call a bird in. The hunt for that day was over. I would recommend watching instructional videos, learn your calls, "yelps, clucks, purrs and gobbles." The more experience you gain, you will be able to determine when you should call, or not call. Start with the basics and progress with your level of comfort to more difficult calling techniques.
This a topic of debate, some say they never use decoys and others swear by it. I personally use decoys, generally a few hen decoys and a Jake decoys set 20-30 yards from my concealment location. Even as new hunter, I felt comfortable hunting with the use of decoys. It seemed to draw attention from where I was sitting allowing for some room for error with my movements or calling techniques. This also made bow hunting easier as I knew the exact distance the birds were standing.
HUNT WITH A BUDDY
I feel that the most value experience I ever gained wasn't from watching videos or reading magazines. I learned while hunting with an experienced friend. This allowed me to observe and listen to the sounds of the Gobblers, what calls he made to draw them in to our location and get a clean shot. This will also allow you to get out and see if you enjoy the sport before making any purchases. (Blinds, calls, etc)
GET OUT AND HUNT!
The best experience you will gain will be through your own experiences. Learning through your mistakes or success's will ultimately allow you to define your hunting style and lead you to be a better turkey hunter. So get out there and enjoy hunting one of Canada's most challenging and exciting species!