By: Tom Claycomb
As turkey season comes to a close, a lot of hunters still hold unpunched tags and are frantically scrambling to come up with an edge to help them out. If it were easy, any derelict could do it, but I’ll throw out a few items that might give you a bit of an edge. I wish I had a magic answer for you, but a lot of times, a decent plan mixed with hard work will make things happen.
So, first off, no tag will be punched setting in your living room whining. Get out every day as much as you can. Let’s tune up our attitude, since we can directly control that. Here’s why this is important: If you don’t think you’re going to see anything, then why not drink one more cup of coffee before you leave camp in the morning? If nothing is going to show up anyway, why not head back to camp 20 minutes early and enjoy a good dinner? Or why go out at all?
You see what I mean; your attitude will affect your actions, and your actions determine your future and outcome. I’m not into the positive mental thinking group, but what we dwell on actually does affect our actions, so determine to hit it hard.
There are now fewer gobblers out there, and the ones still alive are more wary. So the further you can extend your shots, the more chances you’ll have. Use ammo that can reach out to maximum distances. I’ve tested most of the major brands, and HEVI-Shot ammo can stretch your shooting ranges. I think I favor their Blend shells. Of course, the 3 ½-inch mags are best, but they kick like the proverbial mule! So I use 3-inch mags. Next you need a highly functional choke. I like Tru-Lock chokes.
To shoot longer distances, you’ll either need a good sight, or I’d recommend using a Riton Optics Red-dot scope with their 3x Magnifier.
Be particularly careful to camo to the max. Use whatever pattern matches your locale the best. I don’t use the same pattern from head to toe, but mix it up. For sure wear a face mask and gloves. Another thing I’d throw in my pack would be an Ameristep Throwdown Blind. These are super lightweight, portable little blinds you can easily carry with you. This way, as you’re moving around locating a bird, you can have some concealment with you.
I have a Scent Blocker Thunder Chicken Vest. Here’s why I recommend wearing a turkey vest: you can leave all of your calls in it so you don’t forget any. Also, they have a pad, so you’re more comfortable while calling. If you’re not comfortable, then you’re going to be fidgeting around and get busted. They also have a pouch to hold your decoys.
I hunt in the mountains, so lightweight decoys are of the essence. I use Montana Decoys. I’d say if possible, have 3-5 decoys to increase your odds. Make sure one is a Jake. Of course, if you know where they’re roosting, set up off the roost before daylight in the direction you think they’ll come off to.
What you doing isn’t working. So try some new calls. And don’t just buy one new call. I like Quaker Boy calls. I’d recommend buying their Hurricane wood box, their Pushbox, and a few of their various reeds. Also, their Gobbling shake call. You’ll also want some locator calls. Try their Crow call, and I nearly always have luck with a coyote howl.
You want to be comfortable so you can hit it hard all day, so wear some good hiking boots and hiking socks.
Another big deal is shooting sticks. You don’t want to be set up calling and have to raise your shotgun to take a shot and spook your bird. Have your shotgun laying on your bi-pod and pointed in the direction you think the gobbler will come in from.
It’s a whole lot easier to call in a bird(s) if you can intercept them and get between where they are and where they’re going, instead of making them totally change directions. It is more convenient for them.
When calling, it is more productive to have two of you. That way, if one comes sneaking in and circles you at 80-100 yards, he unsuspectingly runs over the top of your buddy who is concealed away from you. This is true when calling elk, crows, and a lot of other game we call.
And lastly, hopefully you get your bird! But then what? You can bake it like normal, or you may consider making turkey jerky out of it. I made jerky out of one a few years ago using one of the Hi-Mountain jerky blends, and it was great. Use a Knives of Alaska Cub Bear caping knife to bone it out.
Tom Claycomb III is a product tester for outdoor manufacturers, hunter, and outdoor writer, writing from Idaho.