By Joe Arterburn


If you haven’t found enough ways to mess up your turkey hunt, don’t worry. Here’s a list of field-proven ways to make certain you’ll come home tired, frustrated and empty-handed.


1.     Don’t pattern your shotgun (or practice practical, realistic shots with your bow)

You’d be surprised how many people go into the turkey woods not really knowing what their shotgun or bow can do, or more accurately, what they can do with their shotgun or bow. Take time to pattern your shotgun at ranges of 10-yard increments out to 50 yards. And start at 10 yards, which is close, but that’s the point. If you have a turkey come in close and personal, your shot pattern will be tight, making it easy to miss. Archery hunters should practice under hunting conditions. If you’re hunting from a blind, practice from a blind. Shooting a bow while sitting is different than when standing.


2.     Draw attention to yourself

Turkeys have sharp eyesight, much better than humans, and they can pick out movement from long distances. And if they see something suspicious, even a slight movement by a well-camouflaged hunter sitting against a tree, you’ve probably blown the stand. Sitting still means sitting still, not shifting and fidgeting to a more comfortable position. And sit in shadows, not the brightly lit side of a tree. Don’t spotlight yourself.


3.     Leave early

Impatience has saved the lives of many wild turkeys, perhaps not as many as unnecessary movement, but a lot. Gobblers don’t always come racing in. If you’re set up on a gobbler you’ve seen or heard, play the waiting game, even if he stops gobbling—especially if he stops gobbling. If you get impatient and decide to move in or move to another location, chances are good you’re going to get busted. When do you call an end to a stand? That is a question that has plagued turkey hunters since there has been turkey hunting.


4.     Start calling before you’re set up

Easy-peasey, right? Guess how many hunters have been walking along, yelping or making other calls along the way, only to have a gobbler answer close by. Or one hunter starts calling when his or her partner hasn’t sat down or hasn’t gotten completely ready, only to have a nearby gobbler pop his head up and busted. How many? A lot. And a lot of those embarrassing encounters don’t get told back in hunting camp. Get in position before starting to call.


5.     Skip preparation

Preparation goes beyond patterning your shotgun or practicing with your bow. Consider all the details that go into a hunt. Make sure your calls are in good condition, the surface of your slate calls prepped, box calls chalked, and diaphragm calls newly stocked. Don’t use that old tried-and-true but stretched out and crusty diaphragm call from last year. They’re not that expensive; buy new ones. Check the gear in your vest. Is your facemask in there? Gloves? Are your boots comfortable enough if you have to get up and run and gun? Have you scouted your location and you’re sure there’s birds there? Have you obtained permission to hunt there? Details, details, details. Don’t wait until the day before the hunt to prepare. Do it now.

HUNTING, TURKEY214 Interactive