scared turkey running

5 Successful Ways to Hunt a Turkey for Thanksgiving

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While hunting turkey for thanksgiving will sure bring lots of fun, we must warn you that it is not for the faint of heart.

You see; wild turkeys have excellent senses of sight and hearing. This means even the slightest movement during hunting can leave the entire flock scattering and eventually fly away.

However, with the following tips, you should be able to bring home a gobbler for thanksgiving.

Let’s check them out.

Hunting Turkey for Thanksgiving

1. Get a License

The first thing you need to consider before you go out to chase a turkey is a license. You definitely do not want to end up on the wrong side of the law, do you?

Well, different states have different rules and requirements when it comes to wild turkey hunting. It is, therefore, important that you check with your state and then obtain a license. This can be done via an online application or through state-approved agents.

2. Hone your Turkey Calling Skills

This is interesting; during fall, you should make tom sounds to male turkeys and hen sounds to female birds. During spring, you should do the opposite. To accurately make these sounds, you need to listen and then imitate the bird.

Turkeys cluck, purr, and yelp. You need to know all these sounds so you can have a successful hunting experience. When making these sounds in the woods, make sure you are alone as other hunters might confuse them and accidentally take you out.

3. Get your Hunting Gear Ready

Camouflage clothing and a good weapon are not enough when it comes to successfully hunting a wild turkey. You also need other items like a turkey decoy. Imagine making turkey calls and using decoys. The bird will unknowingly come closer to you in no time. And when they do this, you will have clear visibility to execute your shot.

You can buy a turkey decoy or make your own.  Buying a decoy will obviously help you save time. But if you have the time and looking to save some money then going DIY is a smart idea.

Here are some tips to make an ultra-real turkey decoy that will give fruitful results:

  • Attach real feathers of the turkey to the right places.
  • Attach a real turkey fan to the backside of your decoy. Aggressive toms will simply find this irresistible, especially when the fan starts to shimmer and shake.
  • Paint the head of your jake decoy white. According to Tony Peterson, a veteran turkey hunter, the head of jake turns white when he is about to breed. And when a gobbler sees this, he will come running to at least prevent things from happening. Talk about insecurities.

Another item you may want to consider is a hunting blind. These structures conceal you nicely, thereby, greatly improving the element of surprise. They are not just perfect for deer hunting but also can be used with greater success when it comes to hunting turkey for thanksgiving.

4. Choose a Weapon

Over the years, turkey hunters have mostly used two types of weapons; a gun and a bow & arrow. Whichever weapon you pick for turkey hunting, make sure you are comfortable using it. Try to practice so there are no surprises when you are out in the field.

If you love firearms, it is advisable that you go for something smaller. This is because a small gun is less bulky. You will, therefore, be able to make accurate shots with ease. Also, moving around with a small gun is extremely easy.

If you are good at hunting with bows and arrows, a short axle-to-axle bow, which is 33” or less, is highly recommended. This is because they are very easy to maneuver and can be used either while seated or crouched low to the ground.

When dealing with bows, you need to set the poundage (measured in pounds, and it is the amount of force needed to draw the bow before shooting).

When shooting big games, like deer, the poundage should be set to around 70lbs. But when your target is a turkey, settle on 60lbs. This allows you to hold your bow at full draw as long as possible. And when all is clear, you will be able to shoot quickly and unnoticed.

Also, when hunting turkeys with bows, it is important that you use expandable broadheads. These are flat pointed steel arrowheads that have sharp edges. They open on impact and make bigger holes, which is important since turkeys have small vital areas.

5. Look for Places Frequented by Turkeys

Hunting turkeys in fall is more difficult than turkey hunting in spring. This is because, in autumn, gobblers are not as vocal as in the months of spring. But “difficult” does not mean “impossible”.

So, start by looking for those areas turkeys are highly likely to visit. One of these is a field with long grass and house cow pies. A house cow pie is a source of corn for turkeys, and we all know the love turkeys have for corn. You can also look for a field with wheat and grasshoppers since these are turkeys’ delicacies too.

Another place you are likely to find a wild turkey is a wooded area. This place provides a perfect roosting ground for turkeys. To know whether turkeys roost in a particular place, look for V-shaped scratches on tree trunks. Also, look for feathers and droppings.

The droppings of toms are shaped like the letter “J” and are normally around 2 inches long, whereas those of hens are circular and round.

Once you are certain that you have found the area turkeys frequently visit and hang out, the next thing to do is set up a blind. If you are using a firearm, set up the blind around 40 yards from your turkey decoys.

But if you are using an arrow and bow, stage the decoy 15 yards out and then get ready to shoot from 20 – 25 yards. The thing is; decoys do not just bring turkeys closer to where you want them but also they work as markers to show how far the bird is. This helps you deliver an accurate shot.

Ideally, when hunting a turkey, try to pick off loners. This increases your chances of getting clear shots.

But what if there are no loners to pick off? Well, in this case, try the scatter-and-recall technique. Try creeping into a group of birds and then wave your arms wildly while making loud sounds. This does sound funny, but trust us; it does the trick.

Once the birds scatter, make lost yelps or soft “kee kee” runs to bring them back.

Immediately the bird is in your sights, go for the neck. Chances are this will kill it instantly. In case you miss the neck but manage to inflict some significant wound, track the bird as fast as you can and kill it in a humane manner.

Summary: Hunting Turkey for Thanksgiving

There are two species of wild turkey (the North American wild turkey and the Ocellated turkey of Central America) and five subspecies of the American wild turkey. These subspecies are Eastern, Osceola, Rio Grande, Gould’s, and Merriam’s.

Well, whichever species or subspecies you plan to hunt, the above tips on how to successfully hunt a turkey for thanksgiving will get the job done. It is also important to note that these tips work both during the fall and spring.

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