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Top Ten Turkey Hunting Tips

Daylight had already broken over the eastern horizon. I was standing on the porch listening intently in between the hum of cars passing by for the gobble I’d heard the day before behind our neighbors house.  Nothing.  I poured another cup of coffee and flipped open my maps app to find a piece of public land I figured might not have been touched yet. Being the third week of the season and not having had much luck for many weeks, time was of the essence. I picked a spot near the only field I could find in Northern New York and sped down the road.

Upon arrival, I observed many scratchings and berated myself in silence for not having checked this parcel earlier. I slipped towards the corn field, stopping to call every few yards to elicit a response. Then I decided to do something crazy. I told Jesus if he would send me a gobbler I’d ask my girlfriend to marry me over Memorial Day weekend. 11 minutes later I killed a mature Adirondack gobbler. While riding the wave of excitement it dawned on me that it would have been cheaper to just buy a frozen turkey from the store. I held up my end of the bargain and yes, we are very happy together. 

Outside of negotiating with life events for turkeys, here are ten tips for tagging your gobbler this spring.

Use Digital Maps:

In the aforementioned story it was the use of digital mapping that helped me identify likely habitats. I was still fairly unfamiliar with the area so using my phone apps allowed me to find a big private field surrounded by public lands.I was searching specifically for that combination of terrain. You may be looking to identify ridges and roads or hardwoods over coniferous trees. Whatever you are looking to find, use your digital mapping to key in on likely habitats. 

Lean on The Late Season:

The older I get the more I like hunting late in the season for turkeys. Several of my biggest gobblers have come during the latter half of the seasons as they were susceptible to hen calls. As the majority of the hens in the area get bred, they leave the gobblers alone. So as the calendar ticks away don’t get frustrated or anxious, it could be playing into your favor.


Old fashion scouting is how the best hunters get things done with consistency.  Don’t forsake scouting for sign, and gaining access. I make the mistake all the time of not putting in more time listening for birds and have to spend valuable hunting time eliminating areas birds are not. 

Shed The Bulk:

I grew up hunting the big woods of southern New York. I learned a long time ago to strip away excess weight and stay mobile. I wear hiking boots mostly these days to be able to move and cover ground more comfortably. Even to things like turkey vests and decoys. Strip away bulky and heavy items to stay lightweight. As you get more tired as the morning progresses, your energy levels will thank you. Also, keep hydrated to stave off the waves of exhaustion. 

Return at 11:

One of the earliest lessons my father taught me was to return to where you first heard a gobbler in the morning around 10:30 or 11.  In the typical cycle of a turkey’s day, hens may break away to sit on nests as the sun gets higher. A gobbler doesn’t forget easily where he heard hens. This window may find him vulnerable. 


    If you’ve got the time, spread out with your buddies and listen for roost gobbles. When I am hunting with friends and family we will all go in different directions to locate gobbles for the morning. 


    There have been a million articles written about decoys alone. Here’s the deal. Have a variety of decoys at your disposal in the car to choose from. Every situation is different and you want to be able to respond with the right setup. 

    Hunt the Rain:

    When I was a kid I had a book called All About Wild Turkeys.  In the pages of that book I read one of the most important tips about turkey hunting I’ve ever read from World Champion turkey caller, Walter Parot. He talked about hunting in the rain and how good rainy days were for him. And I can tell you, it might not be the most comfortable day in the woods but, good Lord, have we had some of the best hunts on the worst weather days. Hens have to get on their nests leaving gobblers vulnerable and receptive. Keep your boots waterproofed and your rain gear handy. Most people stay home, but those birds are still there. 

    Binocular Harness:

    I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing, but I never saw people use binoculars for turkey hunting. I grew up hunting big timber so you’d think it wouldn’t be helpful. I started using a chest harness to hold my binoculars and it has been a huge advantage. 

    Gobble At Em:

    I love hunting elk. Bugling in a big bull is some of the most fun you can have on this planet. Likewise, gobbling at a turkey to challenge him is on that spectrum.  A few years ago, I had a situation where a mature gobbler and several hens were planted firmly 400 yards away in the middle of a field. I thought about bugling at bulls and figured that perhaps the same theory might work.  I started gobbling at him with my mouth call.  Over the course of an hour, he not only was highly responsive but pushed his flock the 400 yards into range.  If the situation is right and safe, this can be a great tactic with dominant gobblers. 

    Jason Reid

    Jason Reid is an outdoor writer, author, and aspiring standup comic. His passion for telling the stories of hunting started before the age of five by following his father along on whitetail hunts and fishing trips. He is a passionate bowhunter having had adventures all around the country and is a three-time member of the archery elk 10% club. Jason has contributed to publications and organizations extensively for over a decade.

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