4 Keys to Accelerated Learning for the Beginner Turkey Hunter
I was very fortunate as a child to be taught how to hunt by my father and grandfather. They taught me lessons that impacted my hunting career way before I could even hunt. These lessons gave me an advantage that others may not have been lucky enough to receive. I feel that it is my duty as a sportsman to pass down some lessons for turkey hunting that may aid youth in their endeavors and give them the advantage they need to take a spring turkey.
Lesson #1: A turkey has incredible eyesight
Hunting the woods in North Western Pennsylvania comes with some advantages and some challenges. The terrain in the Allegheny National Forest has its share of open timber mixed with some clear cuts and brush. These features make it easier to get close to birds while they are in the tree, especially when the leaves start to grow. Use the undergrowth to your advantage. Find a spot to set up that is nestled within brush, next to a fallen tree, or in a clear-cut edge. This will act as a shield from the turkey’s eyesight, giving the hunter more forgiveness if a move is needed. Keep in mind that you also need to have a setup where you can see well. Try to find the best of both worlds when quickly setting up on a bird.
I have personally spooked birds by a slight shift of my head, a move of my finger to my trigger, and even taking aim on a bird. Using cover has helped me get away with these slight movements and aided me in harvesting a bird. Also, do not move your gun until the turkey is behind a tree. Waiting for that moment will allow you to aim without the turkey noticing anything.
Withstanding the urge to move is a vital lesson that all novice hunters must learn to combat. The good news is that shielding yourself in your setup and utilizing slight movements will help to prevent spooked birds.
Lesson #2: Where to aim
There is controversy among the turkey hunting community on where to aim on a gobbler. Many dispute head shot vs. neck shot. If you are like me, and are not the greatest shot in the world, the neck shot is by far the easiest to make and the most effective. My father always taught me to aim where the feathers meet the fleshy part of the neck. Using this strategy in the heat of the moment will allow for some error in your shot. Nerves overcome us all, so if you pull your shot high – DEAD Turkey, if you pull your shot low – DEAD Turkey.
Lesson #3: Be patient
If you are like I was as a child, I was obsessed with the outdoor shows on TV. I constantly saw successful hunt after successful hunt and this clouded my actual opinion of what hunting should be. I assumed I would walk into the woods, hit a call 3 times, and that long beard would run me over. News Flash Kids, this does not happen all the time in the real world. Growing up in PA, I have hunted many seasons with only working 2 to 3 birds.
Stay patient and never give up. You will have many more unsuccessful days as a hunter than successful days, but that shouldn’t sway your love for the sport. Working hard to harvest an animal is one of the most rewarding aspects that you can ever achieve, and it will only perpetuate your love for hunting.
Lesson #4: Practice Calling
Just as the saying goes “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, you will not be a world class turkey caller in 10 minutes. The first step in learning how to call is finding a call that works for you. Each person is different, and there is a call out there to suit your needs. Personally, I had braces as a child and I absolutely hate the feeling of anything in my mouth. Therefore, I started to practice on a friction call and there is nothing wrong with that.
Take your time, and learn the sounds that a turkey makes. I have written a tutorial on our page on different calling sounds and how to make them. Learn the cadences, tones and pitches of the turkey. This will only help to sharpen your skills on calling.
For all of you interested in using a friction call, we created The Deception Chamber to prepare us for the demands we faced while hunting. It is a 3 in 1 Friction call system that will give you the chance to practice and learn on three different surfaces. It comes with slate, glass, and aluminum inserts that work great with the purple heart striker we included. We took a look at the entire turkey hunter spectrum when designing this call. It is our duty as sportsmen to share the tradition and we developed the call with the novice hunter in mind. We truly feel that it can add value to beginners as well as expert level callers. The most important aspect of calling is figuring out what call fits you and practicing on that call. Practice makes perfect and having the discipline to practice is a difference maker. Never forget that.
Passing down some knowledge to the youth and novice hunters is very crucial to the longevity of hunting. Do not be afraid to make mistakes and learn lessons of your own that you can pass along some day to your fellow hunters. Enjoy your time in the woods, don’t get discouraged and most importantly NEVER GIVE UP. If you ever have any questions, concerns, or need help with hunting please contact us. We are always happy to help and we will figure out how to make you succeed in your hunting career.