So, you wanna be a turkey hunter...

Thread starter #1

ryanwhit

Senior Member
Tags : learn, how, hunt, teach, call, new, beginner, beginning, start, young,

So, you wanna be a turkey hunter. Great! Hopefully you’ve found this thread in a search result, so you’re off to a good start. There’s a tremendous amount of turkey knowledge on this forum…you just need to know how to access it. I was in you’re shoes not too terribly long ago, so let me share my story to you.

I grew up doing things out of doors, but turkey hunting was not one of them. I have been familiar with and comfortable in the woods for some time, but like you, I just didn’t come up turkey hunting. Prior to 2006, I went 3 times with people who may or may not have known what they were doing. In 2006 (after several years of saying that I was going to go this year) I went. I emailed a friend, who I knew had some turkeys on his property and had invited me some time earlier, and asked him if I could come one day on a particular weekend. He gave me the go ahead, and I did. I went and killed a bird. Nothin to this stuff…said the guy who lucked in to his first turkey.

I went the rest of the year without seeing another turkey. I hunted the next season and didn’t close the deal. I made lots of mistakes in front of lots of turkeys. I walked miles of private and public property, scouted 5 months out of the year, etc. I worked birds, I called some in to range, but I consistently did dumb stuff. The next year was more of the same. Dumb stuff in front of smart birds. Finally, the second to last weekend, I killed my second turkey. The next weekend I killed my third – my first jake. 2009 was much better, with 4 gobblers, and the first year that I really felt like I was a real turkey hunter. 2010 was better still, with 5 longbeards.

I’m not here to tell you that I’m a great turkey hunter. I’m not. I’m not even going to give any advice on turkey hunting tactics, because I think I am mostly unqualified to do so. I am however going to tell you what I did to change from someone who wanted to hunt turkeys to someone that does hunt turkeys…sometimes even successfully.

The first thing I did was decide that I wanted to do it. When I did that, I, like you, came to this board as a resource. I read recent posts and old posts about turkey hunting, calling, setups, guns, shells, etc. I read hunting reports from successful turkey hunters and gleaned whatever useful information was in the post that led to the demise of that particular turkey. I talked to the people that I knew that turkey hunted. But I did not ask to go with someone. I just went. I went to an area that had turkeys and listened, called, made mistakes, and learned from them. Take my first bird out – since it was a fluke – it took me 2 years to kill a bird. That one happened to be on public land.

Which brings us to where to hunt. Please don’t ask on the forum where to go hunt. If you don’t have access to private land with turkeys, do like many of us and go to some public land. Learn it, hunt it, and kill turkeys. Every WMA that I can think of has turkeys. You have access to it. I’m sure there’s a couple that don’t, so don’t go to those. There’s plenty of NF land that has turkeys too. Go find you 400 acres, learn it, and hunt it. When you’ve learned it, go find you another. When you’ve got that one down, go to another. After a few years you’ll have more places to hunt than you have time. Having no place to hunt is no excuse. You have plenty. Maybe they are not close…my closest of this type of public land spot is 1 hr 45 minutes away…but you have them. Remember you either want to do this or you don’t. I admit, I had (and still have) some good private land to make my mistakes on. They are all 3 hrs away from my house.

Everything you need to know to get you going is on this forum. Pay attention to people who know what they’re doing, and you’ll learn something. That brings me to my next point…who knows what they’re doing? The internet is a funny place. Everyone is an expert:rolleyes:. But in all seriousness, there are people here who are true experts. There are people on this forum (and others, I’m sure) who know a lot about turkey calls. There are some that know a lot about callmakers. Others know about guns. Patterns. Reloading. Calling. Camo. Some know a lot about hunting because they’ve read it, but have not had the pleasure of bloodying the back pocket of their pants from a turkey head hitting it every step for ¾ of a mile...not more than a time or 2 anyway. All of this is good. It’s all good info to have. A few – FEW – have knowledge in all of these aspects of the game. I try to pay particular attention to them. I may defer to the others if I’m researching something directly in their zone of expertise…but when it comes to turkey hunting in general, I want someone who has lots of pictures of them with dead turkeys. Sometimes these guys can be tough to find on the forum, because some of them don’t post a lot. But some of them do. Pay attention and learn. If you’re interested in something particular and would like their advice, send them a PM. In my experience, most are very willing to help.

So you see, you have everything you need. You don’t need someone to go with you, you don’t need someone to take you. If you have that, then great. Your learning curve may be a little shorter…but you don’t need that to get started. You just need to read, listen, pay attention…here and in the turkey woods. Learn from your mistakes. Stick around and you’ll meet some great hunters, and you’ll still have plenty to learn from them.

I hope this has been useful. Again, I don’t think I’m God’s gift to turkey hunting. On some other threads, you’ll see me interject my observations and/or experiences in some subject matters. Many others, I sit back and read…just like I’m encouraging you to do. Turkey hunting is a fun thing – quite addictive, really. I enjoy it, I spend a good bit of time at it, and the past couple of years I’ve had some good success. There’s some on here that have had that type of success for the past couple of decades. Maybe they’ll chime in here with anything they may have to add.
 
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Excellent post!

I'm still very inexperienced but doing most of the things you mentioned has helped me tremendously.
 

trkyburns

Senior Member
:cool: This ought to be required reading before anyone comes on here and says "I'm thinking about starting turkey hunting, what advice can you give me...?"
 

TenPtr

Senior Member
Great thread! Excellent advice and very well written. This will get the praise it deserves while providing the services intended by you....the author. One of the better, more insightful, and meaningful threads I have seen in a while. :clap:
 

J Gilbert

Senior Member
Great post, like you I've only been at this a few years, but this board and another have definitely helped shorten the learning curve for me by giving me somewhere to sit back and take in all aspects of the game that is turkey huntin
 
Great thread !!!!! I wish I would have had this board and all this knowledge when I started turkey hunting. There's some dang good turkey hunters here.
 
Excellent post! Very well written and it contains some great advice.


Now all we need is a "So, you're a turkey hunter. Here's a 12 step program to handle your addiction!" :D
 
" Dumb stuff in front of smart birds." Man I have definetely done this...the biggest problem I think is after you have called that bird in, is movement/ actually putting the bead on the head...knowing when to move is one of the hardest things to master. Remember, you have been calling so the gobbler knows where you are...and i don't even need to say anything about their eyesight.....I read somewhere I think Ray Eye said it...If a turkey could smell like a deer nobody would ever kill one!!!
 

turk2di

Senior Member
:cool: This ought to be required reading before anyone comes on here and says "I'm thinking about starting turkey hunting, what advice can you give me...?"
Yea, i agree! It's like anything in life, this turkey hunting. You get out of it what you put into it!
 
Pay attention to people who know what they’re doing, and you’ll learn something. That brings me to my next point…who knows what they’re doing? The internet is a funny place. Everyone is an expert:rolleyes:. ......... Some know a lot about hunting because they’ve read it, but have not had the pleasure of bloodying the back pocket of their pants from a turkey head hitting it every step for ¾ of a mile...not more than a time or 2 anyway. All of this is good. It’s all good info to have. A few – FEW – have knowledge in all of these aspects of the game. …but when it comes to turkey hunting in general, I want someone who has lots of pictures of them with dead turkeys. ........ Pay attention and learn. If you’re interested in something particular and would like their advice, send them a PM. In my experience, most are very willing to help.
You be preaching the gospel brother. So, so, true.:cheers:

The only thing I would add is don't just let pics of dead turkeys seal the deal. Like you said, look at the whole package. Dead turkeys count, but circumstances should be considered.

I am going to try and kill my first bird this year. Good luck to all.
 

PAUL J

Senior Member
Profoundly well itterated ryan! I have learned tremendous amounts of knowledge from the experience of the gentlemen on this thread,with a dozen birds under my gun , there are days when I still feel like an idiot in the turkey woods. This should be a sticky!
 
Great thread! The birds will teach you. A lot of folks get addicted to letting others guide them and call for them. That is not what its about. Its the thousands of thoughts and scenarios running through your head as you plan your next move. If someone is willing to take you and teach you the first few times great! But after that its time to develop yourself. That is when you will truly learn to play the game. Having been self taught this thread makes a lot of sense. Like you it took me several years to figure it out and I still make mistakes . But I am confident now that if I can work a bird it has a good chance of riding home with me. Turkey hunting takes great skill to consistently be successful. That's why it appeals to individuals that love a challenge!
 
Great post OP.
My first two yrs I let someone call my birds for me while I shot them. The other hunts I was gunless and just observed. I got to the point where I was tired of letting someone else call em up. So my 3rd season I made it my goal to hunt alone until I called and killed my own bird. That yr I killed 3 birds 2 of which were on my own. There is a certain satisfaction of accomplishing the entire process of the hunt. Pulling the trigger is just a small part of it. Hunting with friends is fun but I have gotten to the point that I would rather chase a turkey alone.
 
Thread starter #16

ryanwhit

Senior Member
Glad you guys think this will be helpful.

There's a couple more things I want to hit/expand on. Let's expand first, and Gobble & Strut talked a little about the subject matter. It goes back to who on the forum knows what they're doing, and you knowing a little about the guy your taking advice from. I've asked for some advice before and got some answers in return. Some of the answers were from certified turkey slayers, and some were from guys who haven't killed a whole heckuvalot of turkeys. I want to talk about these guys who haven't killed as many birds. In my case, and one in particular I'm thinking of, the advice I got was good, and I think of it regularly. So when you receive advice, in my opinion it may be worthwhile to take the time to qualify where the advice is coming from. Do a search for the posters username, and see what type of posts he was making 2 or 3 years ago. Is he a new hunter or a grizzled veteran? He may be new and his advice may be spot on, but it's your responsibility to know a little bit about the guy on the side of the screen.

The other thing I want to talk about is calls. When you do a search for calls on here, the results are full of posts about custom pots, boxes, and diaphragms. You will see guys talking about pots with different surfaces, long boxes and short boxes, paddle calls, etc. You will read posts on the matter from guys whose call collections are valued, I'm sure, in the 10s of thousands of dollars range. There are guys on this forum who own calls that are literally priceless. While we are very fortunate in that regard, you, if you are like me, will have very little idea about any of these, how much they cost, if you need them, and if they are worth it. I will tell you my opinion: You do not need them and they are worth it. Kinda contradictory, I know. As an aspiring turkey hunter, I went to the store, bought a variety pack of mouth calls, a simple slate, and a box call. These production calls allowed me to practice and figure out a little about what I want. Once you know a little bit about what you want, and if you decide that you like turkey hunting, take a step and find a custom call or two that you like. Custom pot calls range from $25 to $100+, but most seem to hover around the $50 mark. Boxes are a little more, with prices generally starting at about $75 and going north from there...near about as high as you want to go. You can buy a fine box call that you can give to your children for $100 or so. You may find, like I have, that you like custom calls, and you may start a collection. Or, you may not. You may find a few good production calls that suit you, or find just a couple of custom calls that you like, and these calls may satisfy you for the entirety of your hunting career. There are no right or wrong answers here. You will just have to find what floats your boat, so to speak. If custom calls are something that interests you, find the sticky at the top of the page here. We are blessed with some fine callmakers here, search a few out and give them a ring.

I know this is a lot to take in, but hopefully this consolidated info will make it a little easier. There is a lot to turkey hunting. It is not necessarily an easy and convenient endeavor. If you like easy and convenient, stick with (or take up) shooting deer out of greenfields in the fall. I hear you don't even have to gut them anymore...just drop them off at the processor whole. If you're looking for something to simply pass the time in the spring, maybe crappie and bream fishing is for you. Turkey hunting is not for everyone, but those of us who enjoy it there is nothing else like it.
 

gobble157

Senior Member
Great post bud! Well said and so so true. There are many great guys on this forum and loads of knowledge from all different ends. All I can say is if you're ever up for a hunt I'd love to go with you. Good luck and God bless!:clap:
 

Paint Brush

Gone But Not Forgotten
I cant imagine anyone that enjoys this sport more than myself. i heard my first wild turkey gobble in 1974 and was hooked from that moment on. I see you are a connisuer of TOM KELLY and I live by one of his sayings,I HOPE I LIVE TO SEE IT ONE TIME.
 
Ryan
I wish a select few on here would read this .... Im talking about ''The Po Mouth Club '' that get on here Begging for spots and birds .... yr after yr ... They oughta read this at least once a day . They could really learn by example here ...


props for a well written / worded thread
 
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