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For almost as long as I can remember, turkey season has held a special place in my heart. My earliest memories in the outdoors are of time spent roosting turkeys the night before and then going out and listen to the woods wake up sitting on my dads lap leaning up against a tree. A big ole Tom was also the first animal that I ever killed. Needless to say, I love to turkey hunt.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken turkey hunting a bit more serious than I did when I was a little girl. Instead of basically tagging along and letting my dad do most of the work, I like to take charge and ‘call the shots’…no pun intended. I’ve been bow hunting for a little over six years now, and using my bow to chase after long beards is an added challenge that I welcome each spring, however, using a shotgun is an added thrill that I will always love!
There are a few obvious things that I believe every hunter should do that will put luck on their side. It is ideal if you can roost the turkeys the night before you’re going to hunt to know exactly where they will be the next morning. Another is to practice, practice, and practice. I’ve been trying (emphasis on the ‘trying’) to master using a mouth call. At first I made everyone around me cringe with my attempt, but now I’ve moved on to sounding like what I imagine to be a sick turkey. But it’s a work in progress. I like to carry mouth calls with me in my purse and in my truck, and whenever I’m driving, I’m practicing. Hopefully it will pay off!
When it comes to my preferred set up, when I’m using my bow, I like to hunt out of a blind. As we all know, turkeys have amazing eyesight. Having that protection of blending in with the black inside of the blind allows me to slowly draw my bow without being spotted. I also set my decoys closer to the blind that I do when I’m using a shotgun. I want a close shot, and having the decoys closer gives me a better chance of making that happen.
One thing I’ve really struggled with when it comes to bow hunting turkeys is my lack of patience. I’ll be the first one to admit that as soon as that Tom is in bow range, I want to be shooting at him. I really have to tell myself to calm down and wait…if he’s calm and working his way into the decoys, wait for him to get there and let him give me the perfect shot. Turkeys are tough. Turkeys are hard to kill…and using a bow is hard no matter what angle you look at it. I have a feeling I’ll always be chomping at the bit to shoot early, but hopefully I can continue to learn to remain calm and be patient and make a clean, ethical shot.
Finally, my favorite thing that I’ve learned from turkey hunting is don’t be afraid to get aggressive! “Turkey Reaping” is my new favorite way to hunt turkeys. It is crawling behind a decoy or a fan and going towards the turkeys instead of waiting for them to come to you. In my experience, if you get a bird that is aggressive, (or multiple toms) he is going to want to come run you off. Once you crawl towards them, and they start coming towards you, get ready and hold on because they’ll come in fast!
DISCLAIMER: I would NOT recommend doing this on public land. You’re crawling around in a field looking like a turkey. If you’re not sure that no one else is hunting around you, it could be dangerous.
Turkey hunting is so much fun…I think we can all agree on that. Each time you go out you have the opportunity to learn something knew if you’re paying attention. Good luck to everyone this spring!