So you want to catch yourself a turkey, huh? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Seeing a turkey isn’t rocket science but requires some know-how and patience. First, you need to know that wild turkeys are not dumb. They have excellent eyesight and hearing and can run up to 25 miles per hour, so sneaking up on one will be challenging. But with the right tools and technique, you can get the drop on one of these tricky birds by exploiting a turkey’s natural instincts and behavior. In this article, I will share the essential tips and tactics for catching a turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner or having some wild turkey meat in your freezer. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be a turkey-catching pro and ready to head out to your nearest turkey habitat to put your new skills to the test. The thrill of the hunt and the reward of catching your wild turkey will make all the effort worthwhile. Let’s get started!
Scout for Turkeys and Find Their Habitat
To catch a wild turkey, you must find where they roost and feed. Turkeys are most active in the early morning and evening, so scout the area during those times. Look for tracks, droppings, feathers, and scratch marks. Turkeys prefer dense forests with mature trees, brush, and openings.
Once you locate signs of turkeys, set up motion-activated cameras to monitor when and where they visit. This will help determine the best spot for your trap or blind. If it’s spring, listen for the male turkeys gobbling sounds to attract females. The more you observe, the more you learn about their daily patterns and habitat.
Finding the right location
Choose a spot with plenty of cover and clearings, preferably near feeding and roosting areas. Position yourself downwind so your scent doesn’t give you away. Arrive before dawn and remain motionless—any sudden movements or sounds will scare off the turkeys.
You’ll also want to consider if you plan to hunt from a ground blind, tree stand, or natural cover like a brush. Each has pros and cons, depending on the terrain and how wary the birds are of human activity. With patience and the proper camouflage, you can have a successful hunt. But remember, catching a turkey requires stealth, stamina, and a little luck! You’ll be ready to bag your Thanksgiving dinner with the tips above.
Set Up Your Hunting Ground and Equipment
To catch a turkey, you’ll need to set the right scene. First, scout the area to locate turkey tracks, droppings, and feathers to determine where they roam. Once you find a promising spot, set up your equipment.
You’ll want to use a turkey call to lure the birds in. Start with locator calls like Yelp, cluck, or kee-kee to signal that there are other turkeys nearby. When you spot a turkey, switch to seductive calls like purrs, cuts, and fly-down cackles. Set up a hunting blind near your calling spot to conceal yourself.
Camouflage yourself from head to toe and be as still and quiet as possible. Have your shotgun or bow loaded and ready. Aim for the turkey’s head or neck, as body shots may allow it to escape. You’ll also want decoys to help convince the turkeys that more of their kind are around. Place the baits within view of your blind, about 15 to 30 yards away.
Next, scout the area for turkey tracks, droppings, and feathers to determine the best spots to set up. Look for clearings, open woodlands, or crop fields that turkeys frequent. Position yourself downwind so your scent doesn’t give you away.
You’ll be ready to catch that Thanksgiving turkey with the proper equipment, careful scouting, effective calling tactics, and a lot of patience. Once you bag your bird, handle it properly to avoid contamination. Pluck and clean the turkey immediately, then refrigerate it immediately. And congratulations! The hard work will make that first bite of turkey even more delicious!
Also read: Chick chirping with eyes closed
Use a Turkey Call to Lure the Tom In
Using a turkey call is one of the most effective ways to lure in a turkey. The male turkey, known as a tom or gobbler, will investigate the call of what it perceives as a hen turkey. By mimicking the sounds of a hen, you can call the tom into range to get a clear shot.
Choose Your Call
The three most common types of turkey calls are the bo, slate, and diaphragm. The box call is the easiest to use and produces a raspy hen yelp. The slate call takes more practice but can make very realistic clucks and purrs. Diaphragm calls fit in your mouth and require a lot of practice to master, but they are very portable and hands-free. A box or slate call is a great place for beginners.
Find the Right Spot
Set up near a trail, field edge, or other area where you’ve scouted turkey activity. Position yourself with your back against a large tree for concealment. Clear the ground around you so you have a wide field of view. The tom can approach from any direction, so you must be alert.
Begin calling with some simple hen yelps, slowly increasing in volume and frequency. Call for about 30 seconds, then pause and listen for a response. Repeat this process, mixing in some clucks and purrs. Be patient – it can take up to 30 minutes of calling to convince Tom to come in.
Once you get a response and hear the tom gobbling as it approaches, get your gun or bow ready. Remain motionless and continue calling periodically to give the tom a focal point to come toward. When the tom is within range, aim carefully and take your shot. With the right call and technique, you’ll enjoy a wild turkey dinner in no time!
Camouflage Yourself and Stay Hidden
To catch a turkey, you need to become invisible. Turkeys have keen eyesight, so camouflaging yourself and staying hidden is critical.
Wear camouflage clothing
Slip into camouflage pants and a jacket in the typical woods patterns of brown, green, and tan. Break up your outline by wearing a camo hat or mesh face mask. The more you blend into the brush, the better.
Set up a blind
A blind is a small tent-like structure that conceals you while allowing you to see out. You can construct a simple blind from natural materials like branches, leaves, and brushes. Sit quietly in your blind and wait for the turkeys to emerge. Only peer out from blind people when necessary to not draw attention to yourself.
Use decoys and calls.
Place a few hen decoys in an open area within view of your blind. Then use a box call, slate call, or mouth call to mimic the sounds of a hen. Gobblers are more likely to approach hens during mating season in the spring. When a gobbler comes to the decoys, slowly raise your shotgun or bow and aim.
Always set up your blind so you are downwind of the direction the turkeys will most likely approach. Turkeys have a keen sense of smell; if they detect your scent, they will avoid the area altogether. Check the wind direction frequently using wind drift indicators like bits of fabric, string, or powder.
Move slowly and avoid sudden noises.
Any sudden movements or loud sounds will spook wary turkeys. Move slowly and deliberately when setting up and tearing down your gear. Avoid slamming vehicle doors, stomping feet, or making other abrupt noises. Whisper if you must speak at all. Stealth and patience are the keys to success.
You’ll increase your chances of bagging a gobbler for Thanksgiving dinner with the proper camouflage and stealth tactics! Staying out of sight and quiet will help you sneak up on your bird undetected. Good luck!
Also read: Baby chick chirping loudly at night
Take the Shot When the Tom (Turkey) Is in Range
When the time comes to take your shot, ensure you have a clear view of the tom and that there are no other turkeys in the way that could get hit by accident. You want an ethical, clean shot.
Find a spot with a clear line of sight to the tom, ideally in a bush, behind a tree, or in a ground blind. Try to position yourself so you have the sun at your back, not in your eyes. Keep motionless and refrain from any quick movements that can startle the tom.
Once the tom is within 30 to 40 yards of your position, aim for the head or neck for the most ethical kill. The head is the most prominent target, but the channel also offers a lethal shot. Ensure no other turkeys are directly behind or could run into the line of fire.
When ready, slowly raise your shotgun or bow and take a deep breath to steady your aim. Place the bead or sight pin on the base of the tom’s head or neck and squeeze the trigger smoothly while exhaling. A quick, clean kill is the goal.
After shooting, remain still for at least 30 minutes. The other turkeys may return to the downed tom’s location, allowing additional shooting opportunities. But avoid running to claim your prize right away.
Field dress and transport your tom immediately to ensure the best quality meat. Remove the feathers, innards, and head, then rinse thoroughly with cold water. Place on ice or refrigerate immediately.
You’ll enjoy your wild turkey dinner in no time with patience and the proper technique. The rewards of harvesting your meat and connecting with nature are well worth the effort. Congrats on a successful hunt!
So there, you have everything you need to know to catch yourself a turkey. Get out there, set your trap, bait it well, and be patient. Before you know it, you’ll have a feathered friend to call your own. And think of how good that Thanksgiving dinner is going to taste! But remember, once you’ve caught your prize, treat it with care and respect. Keeping a wild turkey in captivity is a big responsibility, so ensure you’re ready. If done right, turkeys can make exciting and social pets. Best of luck to all you aspiring turkey wranglers out there. May your traps be complete and your bellies satisfied. Happy hunting!