Pattern Your Shotgun-
Every manufacturer and load will pattern differently in your shotgun (oftentimes loads from different production runs may even pattern differently). Its important that you know how they’re patterning and at what distances your “sweet spot” lies in. Set up at 20, 30 and 40 yards (using a fresh target each time) and observe how the pattern changes. It’s important to wear the clothes and gear you hunt in, so that you ensure the gun fits against your body the same way when you’re in the field. I always look for a load and choke that puts around 100 pellets in a 10” circle at 40 yards. Also, really concentrate on how you’re lining up the shot and observe if the pattern is centered up. If you’ve got rifle sites, this is a good way to adjust as needed. If not, take metal notes on where to adjust to make your best shot in the field.
Listen to Live Turkeys-
The best way to hone and improve your calling skills is to take time at home to listen to the sounds of live turkeys (several resources for sound libraries can be found online), and practice mimicking them. Calling (and just as importantly knowing when not to) is a perishable skill that is a true art. Starting at home will give you the best advantage; however, nothing can replace time in the field listening, watching behavior and learning these illusive birds.
Choose the Right Gear–
I’ve hunted with guys who run the gamut from “a guy and a gun” to looking like they packed for a week in the bush for a single evening’s hunt. Personally, I guess I lie somewhere in-between. I choose a good camo for the area I’m going to be in (Cabela’s Zone camo has been very versatile) and typically try to cover my hands and face as well. A turkey’s eyesight is amazing. Based on the cover, terrain and hunting pressure, I’ll decide whether I’m bow hunting or shotgunning (I prefer to use my bow, but late season Turkeys are cautious) and bring the appropriate tool to harvest my turkey. Of course you need your preferred calling method (box calls are great for beginners). And finally, a good, lightweight pack with a few essentials – a cushion if you’re ground hunting, a good flashlight (after using one, the RIGID Halo is the only way to go in my opinion) and I usually bring along a few odds and ends like zip ties to attach my tag, etc. If I’m in an area where I can’t easily find a way to conceal or “brush up”, I may throw some camo burlap or similar material in as well.
The bottom line is to find the style of hunting that works best for you. There’s no one size fits all answer out there, and for me, it’s an ongoing evolution of learning something every time I go out. The most important thing is to have fun and be safe. Good luck on bagging that big Tom this Spring season!
Blue Collar Adventures