How you prep for the spring turkey hunt could mean the difference between putting meat in the freezer and buying supermarket poultry. Some people have luck and can take a stroll through the bush with 12 gauge in hand and come back with a beautiful bird. If that sounds like you, then I’m envious and you probably don’t need to continue reading. For the rest of you, here are some tips on how to prep for a successful turkey hunt.
CAMERAS & SCOUTING
Brittany McGovern, Canadian Huntress Brand Ambassador, begins watching turkeys on the properties she hunts two months leading up to turkey season. She says, “I try and watch them early morning and afternoon to see what their typical behavior is so I know where to set up the blinds.” Brittany also mentions she sets up her trail cameras in the areas she thinks she’ll be hunting to ensure the birds are there and to help pattern birds that she can see from the road.
Whatever kind of call you use, it’s important to practice, practice, practice before heading out into the field. Don’t over call when you’re out, however, this just educates the birds and they are less likely to show up to your spot the next time they show up.
A Jake in half strut position and a hen or breeding hen are good choices for decoys. Brittany finds that it’s an effective means of bringing in the toms, however if she knows there are only Jakes in the area she’s careful when using male decoys as she has seen them hang up in a bush line far away because they’re intimidated by the decoy.
Whether you’re hunting with a gun or a bow, practice is key! After scouring the internet for a reasonably priced 3D turkey target to practice shooting my bow, I came across an Instagram post showing a paper turkey stuck to a regular old archery target. While a 3D turkey would be nice, times are tough right now and the paper will work just as good. Always pattern your gun with the ammo you intend to use to ensure that not only are you accurate, but you’re going to make an ethical shot. The same is true for your bow; practice makes perfect.
What works for some people, may not work for others, depending on where you hunt. I don’t have fields to hunt turkey in but that doesn’t mean they’re not around. Last year I set up my cameras on logging roads and got lots of pictures of turkeys. Brittany typically likes to hunt fields and place herself on a fence row, tree line or in a ditch line where she can have some subtle movements without getting caught with the gun. For bow she uses the same principles but has some where she can brush in a blind. She does all her blind work at least 3-5 weeks before the season so the birds get used to it.
Brittany also mentions that she likes to get her cardio on leading up to turkey, because it’s a lot of walking, spot and stalking. She also uses resistance bands like she’s drawing back on both arms and does another arm exercise before using her bow.
Someone once told me that turkey is one of his favourite species to hunt because unlike with other animals, you can sit in the blind and enjoy a coffee and a cigarette. When you’re hunting in the morning, try and get out early, way before sunrise. That way you don’t scare the birds and take time to listen to the woods come to life and get a good idea of where the birds are going to come out.
Photos supplied by Lee Ross and Brittany McGovern.
Follow Brittany on Instagram.