Learning from A Failed Turkey Hunt | Turkey Hunting and Calling Strategies with Michael Waddell

How to Rebound from a Failed Turkey Hunt

It’s safe to say that we’ve all had a failed turkey hunt or two within our lifetimes. If you’re used to hunting pressured turkeys, you’ve probably failed more than you’ve succeeded. It’s really frustrating and yet it just comes with the territory. But hearing someone jokingly tell you, “That’s why they call it hunting” doesn’t tend to make you feel any better about it. Hopefully, this will cheer you up and provide a shot for redemption.

Here are some turkey hunting tips to learn from a failed turkey hunt, and how they might help you on your next swing and a miss. In a way, these failed turkey hunts can be a great learning opportunity. You start to make connections about which tactics didn’t work in a given scenario and become a more efficient and better turkey hunter as a result. For a great example of this, check out the video below. No matter which turkey hunting tactics Michael and Mason threw at the turkeys, it just didn’t pan out for them.

Scouting for Turkeys

If it’s possible for you to do any preseason turkey scouting, do it. Try to figure out where the turkeys roost, where they hang out during the day, and which routes they take to get between them. That way, you can set up near one of their regular travel areas to increase your chances. Don’t be too aggressive during this scouting though or you could throw them off of their pattern and create a failed turkey hunt right off the bat. On the other hand, turkey hunting without scouting is going into it blindly. You could be hunting the wrong area or even spook them by setting up too close to a roost tree. Bottom line – if you can scout from a distance with binoculars, it will absolutely help you.

Turkey Hunting Setup and Decoys

Everyone has their own opinions when it comes to how important turkey decoy setups are. But you can see some good examples in the failed turkey hunt video above. Here are some tips to consider.

  • Using at least one hen decoy can work as a distraction and attractant, giving incoming toms something to focus on. Generally, you’ll want your decoys fairly close to you (as close as 5 to 10 yards) so that even if a tom hangs up shy of the decoy, he might still be within shooting range.
  • Depending on the turkeys you’re hunting, the type and number of decoys you have will change too. Some toms are nervous to approach another jake or strutter decoy and may only respond to a hen decoy, while others may see the intruding jake/strutter as a challenger and come charging in. If one approach doesn’t work, switch it up.
  • If possible, bring a rangefinder with you to see exactly where your comfortable shooting distance is before the toms appear – this helps you judge distances better and make a better shot.
  • Many turkey hunters set up behind or within vegetation to help break up their profile, which is a great tactic. But make sure you can swing your shotgun any direction without having to move drastically – otherwise, your movement could alert the turkeys and send them running away.

Calling Turkeys

This is one of the most exciting and frustrating parts of turkey hunting. Just watch the video above again if you want to see some frustrating hunts! Many a failed turkey hunt happened because of calling. Here are some ideas to try next time you hunt.

  • Depending on the overall hunting pressure in your area, your calling volume and frequency should be adjusted. Highly pressured gobblers are unlikely to respond to calls, but it can be your secret weapon when you’re hunting uneducated turkeys.
  • Generally, you should call loudly and excitedly when hens are yelping at you or when gobblers are fired up. But as you can see in the video, that doesn’t always pan out either. Start with softer notes (especially when there are turkeys in a field), and slowly build up in volume. It’s important to get loud when it’s windy or you’re hunting in thickly wooded areas to make sure the sound carries.
  • For shy turkeys, force yourself to wait at least 5-10 minutes between calling sequences or you risk over-calling to them. If the gobblers suddenly go silent or keep gobbling but don’t approach you, sometimes it helps to stop calling altogether. Curiosity might get the best of them and force them to come to look for you.

Have you used any of these tactics before? Turkey hunting is a game of cat and mouse, and sometimes you need to adapt everything you thought was right to find the right combination. But if you can learn from each failed hunt and apply it on future hunts, you can become more successful in the long run. At least, we sure hope so!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *