Turkey hunting seasons are opening all around the country. I’m on various social media outlets, and the other day a follower asked me a question, “What advice would you have for a lady who is a first-time turkey hunter?”
A million thoughts went through my mind as I read the request. My first thoughts included a lot of questions, which would narrow down specifics to her scenario. Then I considered, “How about some advice, not just for the lady who wants to hunt, but for men as well.”
My advice to a first-time turkey hunter:
First and foremost is safety. Do you have your hunter’s education certification? Is it required in your state? Whether it is or isn't, I HIGHLY recommend taking a course. If you’ve already taken the course, refreshers never hurt. You can invite a first-timer and sit through the class with them. It's a great way to get a new hunter involved.
Visit your local department of fish and game to find out where a course may be held or you can take on-line courses such as those offered by hunter-ed.com. Safety is the single most important thing not only in turkey hunting but all hunting. Familiarize yourself with it. Learn it. Know it. Go back and refresh yourself and learn it again.
Rules and Regulations
You need to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations. Know your season dates. Know whether you’re able to harvest a single bird, a tom or a hen, etc. You need to know what areas you are allowed to hunt in, and you need to know what methods of take are legal. To find this information, visit your local division of wildlife office.
Decide on your method
Choose what method you will use to take your turkey. If you’ve been shooting or hunting before, this may be fairly simple for you. If you haven't been shooting, there are ladies courses offered around the country through the National Wild Turkey Foundation and other organizations. At these events, you’re afforded the opportunity try shooting various guns or bows. Men who are looking for a place to learn need only talk to local wildlife officers or conservation organizations. There are mentors to be found; Simply ask.
Scout an area to hunt
Being a guide, I spend hours, days, weeks, months... No, wait, make that all year, looking for turkeys and where they live. Learn their habitat, routines and migration patterns.
Learn to call
This step includes making sure you have calls and decoys. Turkey hunting is on the top of my list and when I am asked why I will tell you it is because calling in a strutting tom is nearly as exciting as calling in a bugling bull elk. (Note I said "nearly.") The most exciting way to bag a turkey is to call a tom within range for your Beretta turkey shotgun. Learning to call is an art and takes years to master.
Depending on the area of the country you live in, you may hunt from a blind, the brush, or you may spot and stalk a turkey. In our area it is not legal to hunt over bait, so refer to tip number two and learn the regulations in your area.
Get the right gear
You need boots, hats, masks, gloves and camo clothing suitable to your environment and weather conditions. My advice to anyone is to purchase quality gear that fits. It’s not at all about looking cute in the field. It is all about durability and function. When you’re hiking to a hunting area, you need to be quick, silent and stealthy. Great gear allows you to slide through the brush without making a sound.
For someone just starting out you also need gear that has compartments to store your many calls. At some point, when you decide that you’re in love with turkey hunting, you’ll need to purchase a turkey hunting vest. Good pockets will suffice until you’re ready for that commitment.
Go with a Guide
At times it’s fun to run trial and error occurrences where we teach ourselves something. If you book a turkey hunt with the right guide, he or she can become your teacher, thus saving you time in that learning curve. Do some research and find one that will teach how to scout, call and help you bring in a big, drumming tom turkey.
There are many other items that you’ll eventually want to acquire for turkey hunting. You’ll choose from thousands of calls, decoys, blinds, rests and stands. These are just seven quick tips that are the basics for getting started. Get out there, be safe, have fun and bring in a big-o-gobbler.