Turkey Hunting Basics

Cinque Terre

Drawing a turkey tag in Alberta means a multi-year wait, so many Albertans don’t have a lot of turkey hunting experience. Here are a few tips for helping take advantage of that rare tag.

Scouting

Rule one is to hunt where there are turkeys. Turkeys move considerably, so scouting to find them before you set up significantly increases your success rate. Talking to landowners about where they’re seeing birds provides further insight.

Dress for Success

A turkey’s sight and hearing are excellent, so stealth is critical. That means full camouflage, including facemask and gloves. A turkey vest is a garment that comes with numerous pockets to hold everything you’ll need. Many have a padded back and come attached to a cushion. Sit on the ground with your back against a tree; the more relaxed you are, the less likely you are to fidget.

Ensure that your calls, water, and anything else you might need, including your shotgun, can be accessed with minimal movement.

Decoys

Decoy selection ranges from hard-bodied imitations to compactible foam bodies, from full-strut toms (adult males) to jakes (juvenile males) and submissive hens. Each can be effective, alone or in combination. Using a hen, with or without a jake, is most popular. More important than the number or type of decoy is their role in capturing the attention of approaching birds; you want an approaching tom focussed on the decoy, not you. Situate decoys so they can be easily seen from wherever you believe a gobbler will approach, ensuring you’re not sitting in the line of sight. Hunting without a decoy can be effective, forcing toms to search for the source of your calls, but concealment is paramount.

Calling

The most important call to learn is the hen yelp. Call every ten to 15 minutes. If a gobbler responds, reply, but then call only sparingly or he may wait for you to come to him. Make him look for you. One of the worst mistakes is calling too frequently, risking a tom pinpointing you.

There are different kinds of calls you can try like box, slate, and diaphragm. All are effective and switching between them can lead gobblers to believe there’s more than one hen looking for companionship.

Move

If you’re not getting a response, change locations. You can always return later, but don’t sit in one spot all morning if you’re not finding birds. Hunt all day—toms are often with receptive hens at first light, then seek others to breed with later in the day.

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