I am not the best turkey caller in the world – not by any means. In fact, I’ll put myself in the bottom two thirds of the turkey hunters that I have hunted with. Despite the fact that I am not a very good turkey caller, I kill turkeys! I kill turkeys because I take the time to know what the turkeys in my neck of the woods are doing. In other words, I hunt.
A good friend of mine just became a member of The Tenth Legion about 4 or 5 years ago. A group of 5 or 6 of us go on a long turkey hunting weekend each year that we call our “Trip Around the World,” where we spend one day at each person’s hunting property. My friend, Eric the Newbie, was on this trip with us. One evening after hunting we were sitting around the camp sharing one Bud Light between us, and we were lovingly aggravating Eric about his turkey calling skills – which were, and still are, pretty bad. After about 10 minutes of letting Eric get picked on, I had to step in and defend him. I said then, and I still say, that Eric will be a good turkey hunter one day because Eric is a good hunter. Eric will never have to be a good turkey caller to kill birds. Turkey calling is so far down the list of what it takes to be a good turkey hunter that you can kill your state’s legal limit of turkeys each season without even making a turkey sound in the woods.
The truth is that being a good turkey hunter is 90% being a good hunter and 10% being a good turkey caller. Being a good hunter is 50% knowing your quarry – their habits, their natural tendencies, their life cycle, their strengths, their weaknesses, their patterns, their fears, their motives, basically everything that there is to know. Being a good hunter is 40% knowing your land like it is your house, and being a good hunter is 75% woodsmanship. Being a good hunter, however, does not equal being good at math.
If you want to be a better turkey hunter, put your turkey calls down, study your hunting property on Google Earth and on topo maps, put on your hiking boots and walk the property – nearly every inch of it – making notes of every fallen tree, ditch, and any other possible hang up that would keep a turkey from coming to you. Study your turkeys – where are they in the winter, spring (early, mid, and late), and fall. Study why they are where they are and look for other areas on your property that are similar to find more birds, and study when they are where they are. Basically, you are just going to become a student of turkeys, your land, and the outdoors. It involves time, effort, and some expense, but the enjoyment you will get will far outweigh the troubles.
Eric the Newbie is getting better at turkey hunting each season because he is learning about turkeys – mostly the hard way. It took me about 10 years of do it yourself learning at the school of hard knocks to learn what I know and to start having real success in the turkey woods, but it was worth every minute of it. So, save this site to your favorites, change your shoes, and get in the woods to do some studying. It will definitely pay off with a filled tag or two this season.