The wild turkey is a symbol of success for conservation groups throughout the United States and Canada. Nearly 65 years ago, the wild turkey was teetering on the edge of extinction. However, with help from dedicated groups such as the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), national and state conservation groups, plus help from dedicated hunters, the return of the wild turkey is one of the biggest environmental success stories of our time. The NWTF now estimates there are more than 8 million wild turkeys in North America.
Thanks to remarkable conservation efforts, turkey hunting has become very popular over the last decade. Hunters familiar with deer or other types of hunting are taking up turkey hunting for the first time. Regardless of age or gender, or level of experience with other species, turkey hunting is fun, plus it can be the perfect game for novice hunters to pursue. Here are a few tips for the rookie turkey hunter.
Seek Professional Help
Websites, such as the National Wild Turkey Federation offer lots of useful tips from hunting pros around the country. However, if are looking for a more hands-on approach and would like the help of a professional than finding a local mentor maybe more to your taste. A great place to look for such a mentor is through your local NWTF Chapter. Conservation organizations such as the NWTF realize one of the best ways to grow their membership numbers is to bring new folks into the fold to help them learn the “ins and outs” of turkey hunting.
There are three categories of turkey calls: mouth or diaphragm calls, slate calls and box calls. The mouth calls are often the most difficult to master so plan on spending a few extra dollars for an instructional CD to learn how to use a mouth call properly. The slate and box calls, however, are relatively easy to master. Do not let a lack of confidence in your calling skills deter you from heading to the woods as this is the best place to hear real turkeys talking to one another. If you still do not have confidence in your calling skills, sit still and listen to the birds. Become a student of the wild turkey and study their normal sounds such as when they fly off a roost or sense danger.
Regardless of the type of call you choose, start by learning the three basic calls: yelp, purr and cluck. Many successful turkey hunters have used their hunting skills to bag a bird rather than their calling skills. However, being versatile at calling will increase your chances of bagging a bird. One of the biggest problems beginners often make are determining when to call and how much to call. Learning the rhythm or cadence of turkey talk and how turkeys break up their rhythm will help you in your calling skills.
Becoming a competent caller is just the beginning of the skills you will need to become a successful turkey hunter. Come back next week for the final installment of “Turkey Hunting for Rookies”—you will learn a few more of the basics needed to pursue the greatest of all game birds.
Do you have a favorite turkey call? Tell us about it in the comment section.
Lisa Metheny is a published award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, speaker and outdoor skills instructor. Lisa holds several instructor certifications and conducts a number of women-focused outdoor seminars on topics such as archery and hunting throughout the year. She regularly teaches hunters education and archery classes and has become an advocate for promoting traditional outdoor recreation to families across the United States. Lisa is also an avid and accomplished hunter with many big game species to her credit. She is a member of POMA and former Board of Directors member as well as a member of the NRA, RMEF, MDF and DU.
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