First Season Turkey Hunter, Any Advice?

Jroberts238

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I'm making it a point this to put my hunting skills to the test, trying new things.

Any advice you guys could give me would be much appreciated. The thing that has to be the most frustrating I guess is trying to learn how to properly use the different calls. Mouth calls are killing me, but seem to give the most advantage being hands free.

How did you guys learn? I know practice makes perfect, but was there something that kick started you in the right direction?
 

SEC

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Throw the calls in the river. Just get in front of them wait till there inside 40yd then shoot him in the face. This has worked for me countless times.
 

Setterman

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With regards to calls if you are wanting quicker success with turkeys get a good aluminum or slate and learn to use it, friction calls are by far the easiest to learn on and you will gain confidence as well. For the first little bit learn to mouth call while driving to avoid divorce court, and get a cd to help teach you the basics

The best way to learn is to tag along with someone who has hunted turkeys some, they don't have to be a pro by any means but a little experience can really speed up your learning. I am sure there are some guys here who live close and would be willing to help
 

X-Tennessean

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Friction calls were the easiest for me to learn on also and the advice given about practice while driving is a good one, I kept one in my truck and would give it a go every time on my way to work and back or anytime I was alone ! Lots of great video's on youtube also.

The other most critical key is PATIENCE, that is probably the number one killer (good and bad) in chasing thunder chickens !!
Sometimes it will happen withing minutes of your setup and sometimes several hours afterwards, just be patient and don't rush things.

I am no expert by no means and learnt on my own as there was no one to tag along with, if we were closer I'd be more than willing to team up and give it a go sometime as I know how challenging it is going in with the unknown but in all honesty you will learn quick from your mistake's.

Good luck !!
 

Setterman

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X-Tennessean said:
The other most critical key is PATIENCE, that is probably the number one killer (good and bad) in chasing thunder chickens !!
Sometimes it will happen withing minutes of your setup and sometimes several hours afterwards, just be patient and don't rush things.
Great advice, I know what killed me early on was getting antsy and wanting to move closer when things weren't unfolding as fast as I would like.
 

BHC

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I had to learn through trial and error... Ive had a short turkey hunting career this is my 5th season i started at 18, and im 23 now.. There is no right thing to do, anything can work at different times. Typically patience will work more times than being really aggressive and anxious to make a move.. I would consider myself a pretty aggressive turkey hunter, but I believe I could've killed more turkeys had I been more patient over the yrs...
As for calling I think I'm pretty average with a mouth call and slate I'm ok with a box but only use it to locate really... I call in the truck all the time, let the dogs out and sit on the porch and practice. I like to record it on my phone and then replay it and see if I didn't know better would I be able to tell if it wasn't a turkey. This really helps you slowing down, or speeding upyour cadences.. Get some recordings and mimic them... That's what helped me the most... I've put a mouth call in on average probly once a day for the last month.. Only practice can make you better... It's an instrument, ya just gotta learn to play it.. Master the cluck then put a few clucks together then learn to cut or cackle... Do 3-4 yelp cadences till you got that then get more excited w it and mix cuts and yelps.. Etc. gotta learn the easy stuff first... Start at the bottom and work your way up...
 

TheLBLman

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All good advice above, especially about learning to be more patient. It can be very hard to be patient enough.

More specific advice is often specific to the hunting circumstances, i.e. do you have lots of land to roam or only a few acres to hunt? Hunting fields or woods? Run & Gun style hunting vs. sitting in a blind?

For example, decoys are probably much more liability than asset if you're mainly hunting woods. Decoys CAN be more asset than liability if you're hunting fields, but are often a liability. Take note that many of the accomplished turkey hunters either don't or seldom use decoys.

If you want to learn more faster, you'll probably do so by not using decoys and not using pop-up blinds. If you want to kill your first turkey quicker, both a pop-up blind and a single hen decoy (if hunting a field) might be advantageous. Keep in mind hunting and shooting are two different skill-sets, and simply shooting a turkey coming to a decoy from a pop-up blind, may be more about shooting than hunting.

IMO, the quickest way for a novice to learn a wider-ranging turkey-hunting skill-set is to head out before daylight carrying nothing but your shotgun and a single turkey call. Really go hunting, and measure your success much by your enjoyment of the pursuit, and not just by whether there's any shooting.

The three biggest mistakes I see novice hunters making are

1) Being impatient
2) Over-calling
3) Over-emphasis on getting a shot

The gun, choke, and shells you're using make less difference than almost anything else. Most turkeys are killed under 35 yards. Buying into the marketing hype of long-range turkey chokes has caused many a novice to flat out miss his first opportunity at a big Tom strutting at 18 yards. In fact, if you're mainly hunting woods, you might increase your odds of actually killing a turkey by using a factory "modified" choke rather than the after-market "extra-extra-full turkey" chokes.
 

Jroberts238

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Wow, lot of good advice I couldnt be more pleased with all the info.

Patience is something I need to work on, it was my biggest enemy during deer season.

As far as to the kind of land I'll be hunting, its probably going to be somewhere up South Cherokee. I am hoping to get out and find a nice clearing with some cover along the edge.

I don't plan on using any kind blind, undecided on decoys.

As far as calls, I bought the H&S(?) starter kit just to have something to practice with. It came with a double glass slate call, double-d mouth call, crow call, and a owl call.

Just from watching videos im getting more confident with the slate. Probably going to try pick up a box call sometime soon to see how I feel about it.

I saw someone mentioned letting me tag along and I appreciate that. I wish you was a little closer too. Can't beat having someone guide you through the basics. If there is anyone planning to hunt cherokee or anything close and wouldn't mind I would greatly appreciate the knowledge.

This has really been my first season hunting. I went on a couple of trips when I was younger but the bug didn't bite until here recently. So this year I am going for broke. Gonna try to hit every animal as the seasons open to see where my passion lies with each one.

As far as chokes/shot goes. I'm torn between which to use. I have a full, Mod, and IMP. Wanting to use 4 shot heavy loads, shooting a mossberg 500 12ga. Any advice on what patterns well for you guys?
 

whiskey

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I would suggest getting an extra full choke and adjustable sights. #5 lead or #7 Hevi shot and learn how far your pattern is good. If you PM me your address I will send you a Mossberg X Facor choke (lead only, no Hevi shot) and a box off 3" # 5 lead Winchester Supremes. You just have to promise not to take a shot past 40 yards. No going long range sniper your first year! Learn to call them into range, be patient and don't risk wounding a bird.
 

Jroberts238

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Wow, Thanks! That helps a lot!

You guys on this site cease to amaze me.

I don't plan on anything past 40 yards. Mainly because I dont want my pattern to scatter too far and be crunching shot while trying to enjoy my turkey lol.

I'll def look into adjustable sights. I have tossed the idea of a red dot just for turkey. Right now it has one of the neon green sights probably about an inch long. Not sure of the brand, was on it when I got it.

Really been drooling over the 535 Turkey Thug. Wife wouldn't approve of another gun this soon though. (just bought a new pistol)
 

BHC

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Also mouth calls, some are much harder than others depending on latex thickness and # of reeds.... Also size of tap. Buy a bunch play with them all and don't give up... It may take a couple yrs to get as good as you'd like to be...
 

TheLBLman

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Jroberts238 said:
As far as chokes/shot goes. I'm torn between which to use. I have a full, Mod, and IMP. Wanting to use 4 shot heavy loads, shooting a mossberg 500 12ga. Any advice on what patterns well for you guys?
Most are going to recommend you go with the full choke.
Since you're hunting woods, and using a gun without optical sights, possibility remains you might improve your odds with that Modified choke.

If you're not going to do extensive pattern testing, I'd recommend trying the Hevi "Magnum Blends". They seem to do well in most anything and are readily available. I would not recommend #4 lead, but then I'm always going for a head/neck shot (I eat my birds).

One advantage of the heavier than lead loads is they penetrate deeper than larger sized lead pellets. A couple years ago I killed a big Tom at over 40 yards using straight #7 Hevi-shot. Some of the pellets completely penetrated the breast. What I'm saying is you don't need larger pellets even for a body shot, while the advantage of smaller pellets is a much denser patter. Those "Magnum Blends" are a mixture of #5,#6, & #7 hevi-shot.

Jroberts238 said:
Really been drooling over the 535 Turkey Thug. Wife wouldn't approve of another gun this soon though. (just bought a new pistol)
Save your money.
The gun you have is just fine for turkey hunting.
 

Jroberts238

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BHC said:
Also mouth calls, some are much harder than others depending on latex thickness and # of reeds.... Also size of tap. Buy a bunch play with them all and don't give up... It may take a couple yrs to get as good as you'd like to be...

I bought a double reed today thinking it would be just like using a single, wrong. lol im as bad as ever. I did notice the double reed fit better though. I plan on going sometime this week and picking up a couple more in different stills to see how they fit. As long as I can stop almost choking on them I will keep at it until I get em strutting in.


Wes Parrish said:
Jroberts238 said:
As far as chokes/shot goes. I'm torn between which to use. I have a full, Mod, and IMP. Wanting to use 4 shot heavy loads, shooting a mossberg 500 12ga. Any advice on what patterns well for you guys?
Most are going to recommend you go with the full choke.
Since you're hunting woods, and using a gun without optical sights, possibility remains you might improve your odds with that Modified choke.

If you're not going to do extensive pattern testing, I'd recommend trying the Hevi "Magnum Blends". They seem to do well in most anything and are readily available. I would not recommend #4 lead, but then I'm always going for a head/neck shot (I eat my birds).

One advantage of the heavier than lead loads is they penetrate deeper than larger sized lead pellets. A couple years ago I killed a big Tom at over 40 yards using straight #7 Hevi-shot. Some of the pellets completely penetrated the breast. What I'm saying is you don't need larger pellets even for a body shot, while the advantage of smaller pellets is a much denser patter. Those "Magnum Blends" are a mixture of #5,#6, & #7 hevi-shot.

Jroberts238 said:
Really been drooling over the 535 Turkey Thug. Wife wouldn't approve of another gun this soon though. (just bought a new pistol)
Save your money.
The gun you have is just fine for turkey hunting.

Thanks for the advice. I only bought the #4 based off my experience with tree rats. I too eat everything I kill so even with squirrel I go for head shots. Always had better luck with the bigger shot. But I see your point, it makes more sense to go with the 5,6, or 7 shot size.

Thanks to Whiskey I will hopefully find sometime to test the patterns out with both.

Do you guys use locating calls? If so, is it the first thing you do when you hit the woods or do you let nature take its course?
 

BHC

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I usually call and if they'll keep gobbling on their own let em I jus want them to gobble as early as possible, so I can get as close as possible while it's still dark... I bought the H.s. limb shaker owl call it sounds really good!
 

skillet

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Let nature be your locating call at first light. I would get a crow call and practice with it. Are you hunting public land or lease land?
 

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