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5 Best Turkey Scouting Tips For Hunter

If you’re looking to get into hunting as a beginner, turkey hunting can be a great introduction to this exciting and passion-filled lifestyle. My first hunting kill was a turkey during the Autumn season in South Dakota, along with my father and uncle. I was hooked after that- I’ve returned almost every year and taken part in many Spring season hunts as well.

Turkey hunting scouting tips are plentiful on the web and we’ll incorporate top tips and my experience here to give you a well-rounded knowledge base for the upcoming season. Make sure you check weapon requirements and bag limits for the state where you hunt and bring your camo gear. Here we go!

#1: Identify the best location

Different states and provinces have different regulations, so do research in advance and then get out there to scout the area.

  • The location is the most important of my turkey hunting scouting tips. Ideal turkey habitats are diverse and contain different sources of food, plenty of water, and shelter. Turkeys roost in trees and often drink from streams in more open areas. Much of their food is found in open areas.
  • Note whether you’ll be on public or private land and be sure you have necessary permits and permissions. (Here’s a great video about location)
  • Try planting a food plot heavy with bugs and wood to attract turkeys. I prefer to do this because it gives me the best chance at having nearby, well-hidden ambush areas. If you have the means to do this set it up while turkeys are roosting and be sure not to leave a man-made trace, (for reference, see this article).

#2: Start scouting early!

Turkeys are notoriously feisty and paranoid and without the proper approach you’ll find yourself eating Hormel from the grocery store instead of experiencing that delicious wild game taste and the satisfaction of self-sufficiency. Do your planning and you’ll see the easier side of turkey hunting.

  • There is no reason not to begin your turkey hunting scouting in late winter, like February or March. By finding where the flock is in your target location well in advance, you’ll have the best chance at knowing their habits and ultimately having a successful hunt. (Great article here)
  • As turkeys are very mobile, the longer you are able to observe them during scouting gives you best chance to learn their movements and be prepared for the hunt. Note their roosting and drinking areas on your map and how long they tend to spend there per day.
  • Set up trail cameras across the area and check on them every 2-4 days (checking more often is just extra time out that gives turkeys more chances to see you and avoid the area). Find where they are feeding, and when the season starts to follow the turkey hunting scouting tips in step 3.

#3: Plan to make a day out of scouting before the hunt.

Prep equals perfection. That’s my hunting motto, and the most successful  hunts I’ve done are the ones I prepped for the most. Follow a routine and always take notes of what you’re doing!

  • Break your day up into sections, each with a primary focus to help you achieve the overall goal of bagging a turkey. The night before, make sure you have everything in order and ready to go. Binoculars, topo map, GPS, notes/outlines/research of the target area, weapon, outdoor supplies and clothes. Get on the road by dawn and cruise around the hunting area listening for turkey sounds and keeping an eye out for any hints of turkey presence. (Good discussion here)
  • Later in the morning, patrol the hunt area. Watch for strutting toms in the fields, wooded areas, ridgetops, and crevasses. Blow the occasional owl call to perk their ears. Remember, when in open fields keep quiet always pay stark attention.
  • By afternoon you should have a general idea of where the turkeys are. Look for roost trees, droppings, food, and other signs to mark their trail and start pinpointing your ambush spots based on where they will be later in the evening. Your turkey hunting scouting process is now in full swing.
  • In the evening, follow their track from feeding back to roost spots. Before heading home, make sure you know exactly where they will be when you return the next morning for the hunt. I like to take notes on the map and mark ‘X’ in two to three different places I plan to hide out.

#4: Turkey talk!

Calling the birds reduces the chances that they will run away or remain hidden. Watch some videos of calls and practice while in your vehicle.

  • To call in the turkeys, you’ll want to frequently use the mating noises of young hens. Hopefully, you’ve been practicing all winter! In the fields, stop frequently to make the call and then listen carefully for ruffles, noises, or movement. Turkeys respond to calls and can be surprisingly social. Toms come in easier than the quiet gobblers. (Here is a sample turkey talk)
  • Having a decoy or stage noise maker makes your calls seem more authentic. Try and switch back and forth between your calls and using a decoy, this sounds more convincing!
  • More info on talk and fall prep here.

#5: Have your weapon ready to go during scouting.

This makes scouting as realistic as possible and gives you a chance to test visibility in your ambush areas. Just be sure to prep your weapon:

  • To avoid detection of your barrel, it should be camouflaged or at least dulled. Do this before turkey scouting and practice some approaches from your ambush spots. As part of your scouting prep be sure that the gun will shoot a clean shot to the head or neck from 20-40 yards, body shots won’t drop the bird cleanly.
  • For bow hunting, you’ll want to get within 20 yards. Practice your approach during the scouting and use a blind to conceal movement. (For actual hunting guide, see here)

I hope these turkey hunting scouting tips help you to better prepare for your next hunt! I’ve found turkey hunting to be the most addictive way to hunt because of the unique challenges those feisty birds bring to the table. I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories of turkey hunting- please share in the comments below! When taking new hunters out in the field, have them read up on procedures and take notes of what you are doing. If you found this article useful, share on social media because being prepared and educated about hunting is the best way to keep our passion sustainable for everyone.

Where To Shoot A Turkey? Shoot With A Bow Or Rifle?

You would certainly think that hunting a turkey is a walk in the park considering the fact that turkey seems to be a better target than big games such as bear, elk, or even a bison.

You may have underestimated the prowess of turkey, for despite the fact that the turkey may have a pea-sized head, it may be quite difficult to hunt it, especially if you are just tyro in the art of hunting. It will be easy if you are hunting a domesticated turkey; however, it will definitely be preposterous to hunt a domesticated turkey. On the other hand, it will surely be a rough adventure if you are going to hunt wild turkeys. Wild male turkeys usually weigh around 6 to 11 kg, and is barely 125 cm in length. The female turkeys however are a bit smaller than the male with a weight that ranges from 2 to 5.4 kg. The habitats of wild turkeys include the hardwood and conifer forests, although sometimes, they inhabit the fields, orchards, marshes, and even the pastures.

The behavior of turkeys are quite predictable. Despite their heavy weight as compared to other birds, they are capable and agile fliers. They can even fly and perch at the canopy top, although they usually prefer to fly very near the ground, and they can fly for almost half a mile. You will definitely sense the presence of wild turkeys by the different sounds they make. They usually produce many types of sounds, and there are several terms associated with turkey sounds such as those of clucks, gobbles, putts, yelps, cuts, cackles, kee-kees, and purrs. If you want to be a great hunter of turkey, you should be cognizant of these different sounds created by turkeys and of the usual behavior of turkeys.

Turkeys are usually foraging anywhere they would find food. They can climb small trees, and they eat various types of food such as nuts and acorns. Hence, you will surely encounter one or two of them in the wild. It is however good to know the different tips on how to hunt a turkey for you to be successful in your hunting spree. These tips include the best season to hunt turkeys. Likewise, as a hunter, you should know the behavior of your target game, and should also be knowledgeable of the best tools and weapons you should use to hit your target. In the case of hunting turkey, you got to carry with you your best weapons and know your range of efficiency in hitting a turkey.

How to Attract your Turkey?

Plant food Plot

Just like in any hunting game, you need to draw out your target to a specific location where in you can have a good shot at it. To draw out turkeys, you need to plant lush food plot for the unsuspecting turkeys, for surely, turkeys want abundant forage.

Learn the Turkey Calling Sounds

Turkeys, as mentioned earlier, create different types of vocalizations. They usually use these vocalizations for different reasons such as attracting or calling their mates or simply informing their mates about their locations. Two of the most popular turkey vocalizations that you can make use of is the hen yelp and the simple cluck. If you master these two calling sounds, you may end up with a lot of killed turkeys when you go back home. You can also learn the turkeys’ slate call and the locator calls.

Wear the Best Camouflage while hunting

If you really want to be almost invisible to the gobbler’s eyes, it is imperative that you wear a total camouflage. Your camouflage should be appropriate to the specific season for hunting, and your camouflage should match the color of the place.

Your Best Weapon in Hunting Turkey

Where to Shoot a Turkey with a bow

Where to Shoot a Turkey with a bow

Where to shoot a turkey with a bow

It is of course quite difficult to hunt a turkey with a bow, for turkeys become easily aware of any imminent or actual danger. They immediately take flight at the first sense of danger. For this reason, it is very difficult to use a bow or even to take aim at the turkey using a bow. In fact, at the sight of a turkey, it would really be quite difficult for you to even come to a full draw without the turkey immediately sensing you. However, if you have properly set up your decoys, you can have enough time to take a good aim at the turkey. The best distance to hit a turkey is around 15 yards away, although you can still hit it from around 20 yards. You should also find the different of single cam vs dual cam bow, learn about advantage and disadvantage of them!

The bow that you should use for turkeys should have lighter drawing weight with a higher let off. The reason for this is that you need higher accuracy with turkey because you got a smaller target space with a turkey. You should also use highly specialized broadheads for turkey, because you want to immediately impart a fatal wound on a turkey target.

Aim for the head, neck, heart, and spine, and liver

If you aim for the head or neck, you may fatally wound the turkey; however, hitting these areas is quite challenging and there is a strong likelihood that you would miss on these targets. Hence, it is also good to aim for the midrib; and obviously, with the midrib as your target, you may also hit the heart, lungs, spines, and even liver. It is definitely not good to aim for the legs for that is tantamount to driving the bird to become airborne.

Where to Shoot a Turkey with a shotgun

Where to Shoot a Turkey with shotgun

Where to Shoot a Turkey with a shotgun

One of the best weapons to hunt turkey is with the use of a shotgun. A single-shot shotgun may be your best option because it is the less expensive among shotguns. You can use a single pellet that can readily hit the head and deliver a deadly blow. Likewise, you can also opt for the popular Mossber 835 or Remington 870. Moreover, you can also use semi-automatic shotguns if you want a follow-up shot with minimal recoil.

When using a shotgun, it is good to aim for the neck with a single pellet shot. However, if you want a more decisive hit, you can swarm your target for a more efficient hit.

Where to Shoot a Turkey with a Rifle

Where to Shoot a Turkey with a rifle

Where to Shoot a Turkey with a rifle

Choosing a rifle is somewhat a personal choice, as long as you are comfortable with your rifle. There are plenty of turkey rifles to choose from depending on the budget that you have. The .22 Hornet, for example, is a good rifle for beginners.

Just like when using bows and single-shot shotguns, you should also aim at the neck or the head of the turkey to deliver a fatal shot on it when using a rifle. However, the head and neck is quite difficult targets to hit using a rifle. Hence, you can also opt to hit the turkey on its spine and heart; but surely you wouldn’t want to leave a gaping wound on the chest of the bird.

Conclusion:

Hunting turkey is one of the most exhilarating and exciting hunting games you can engage in in the wild. As long as you have the right weapon and know the habitat of wild turkeys, you will always be amply rewarded with many hits in the end. Lastly, as long as you are cognizant of the usual behavior of turkey, you can always draw out the turkey to your target location and effectively and efficiently take an aim at it. Hope you find the best place to shoot a turkey.