Execution of a Successful Out of State Do-It-Yourself Turkey Hunt
Any hunter that has spent more than a few seasons consumed by turkey hunting has undoubtedly thought of an out of state turkey hunt or of hunting for another species of turkey. There exists a fascinating sense of wonder when it comes to thinking about out of state turkey hunting; the thought of new ground, different terrain, or possibly a different species of bird. Every state brings a different hunting scenario and often different hunting strategies for a successful hunt.
There are countless numbers of outfitters that offer guided and unguided turkey hunts across the nation, but the most rewarding hunts are those do-it-yourself turkey hunts on new ground. Planning an out of state do-it-yourself turkey hunt requires a dedicated amount of time and will need to be planned several months in advance to the season the turkey hunter plans to hunt. For the hunters hunting deer seasons that end in late fall, shortly after deer season ends, is the perfect opportunity to start planning the turkey hunt.
Where to Hunt Turkeys Out of State
Before the turkey hunter can decide on what state they want to hunt it is important to consider several factors:
- Is the interest of the turkey hunter to just simply hunt a different state?
- Is it the intention of the turkey hunter to harvest a different species of turkey?
- How many days does the turkey hunter have available to spend on this hunt?
- What is the turkey hunter’s budget for this hunt?
To successfully hunt a different species, the turkey hunter will need to search the Wild Turkey Distribution map published by the National Wild Turkey Federation, and decide on a state that has a good population of the species they seek to harvest. If the goal is simply an out of state do-it-yourself turkey hunt, choosing one of the states bordering the hunter’s home state or within a day’s drive will give them more time to spend on the hunt. When deciding on a budget for the hunt, always consider fuel expenses, lodging, meals, license/tags and a small emergency fund in case something should happen in traveling or during the hunt. If the plans are to fly, the expense of airfare, baggage fees, and vehicle rental will need to be considered into the expenses. Traveling by air is often more suitable if hunting with an outfitter where the turkey hunter will not usually need to rent a vehicle, it is likely they won’t need as much gear and can travel with just the basics.
Once the turkey hunter has decided the state they want to hunt, it is time to do the research in narrowing down exactly when to hunt, where to hunt and familiarizing themselves with the licensing and hunting regulations of that state. Doing the research is the single most important factor in the fate of a successful hunt. The more research the turkey hunter does before the trip, the more time saved and the smoother the hunt will be.
Bone Collector Turkey Hunting Out-of-State | Florida
Florida has never let us down in the past and this year was no exception!
Always Homework to do!
Research the hunting season dates and licensing/permit process; if the permits are available over-the-counter or if it is by application, research the application process and the deadlines. All of this information can usually be obtained from the state wildlife authority website. Review the hunting regulations of the particular state where the hunt will take place for vital information such as the number of birds that can be legally harvested, the daily limit, any reporting or game check procedures, parking area sign-in, legal hunting weapons, and allowable gear such as decoys, electronic calls, blinds, etc. Every state is going to vary and it is the turkey hunter’s responsibility to know the turkey hunting regulations before setting out on the hunt.
Search the state’s wildlife authority website for harvest information, public land access, wildlife management areas, national forests, private land walk-in areas, and Army Corps of Engineers land. Keep in mind that when looking at the land information, search for larger parcels of land to hunt so options are available if the public land is heavily pressured. It is also beneficial to try to find remote areas where campers, hikers, bikers and/or birding enthusiasts can be avoided. Look for several choices and often finding multiple areas that are in close proximity is a good idea in case the turkey hunter finds that the property was not what they hoped for and need a backup location.
Once property is found that interests the hunter, they should contact the state wildlife agency, management officials or the state wildlife biologist to obtain information about those areas and request maps. These agency officials can be very helpful with providing a turkey hunter with bird numbers, harvest statistics, roost and strut zones on specific parcels, and possibly favorable hunting strategies for that area. Another good resource is contacting the NWTF Technical Committee Member in that state the turkey hunter wishes to hunt.
Scout From Home!
If the state agency was able to provide public land maps or wildlife management area maps, those maps will need to be used along with topo maps, aerial photos, and any mapping programs or apps that the hunter already accustomed to using such as Google Earth, OnXMaps, or MyTopo. Armed with these maps, getting familiar with the terrain, scouting for ridge lines, river bottoms, water sources, likely roosting and strutting zones will result in finding prime locations to hunt. It is also important to know where parking and access to the property are located. Many of the mapping programs and apps allow for the user to mark waypoints that can be accessed in the field, on a GPS or app, on a smartphone. It is a good idea to always carry paper maps that have been marked up as well in the case of a lost device, no signal or drained batteries. Technology is the greatest ever, but only when it can be relied upon; prepare for doing it old school.
Use the mapping programs to find local towns for lodging, meals, and fuel. There are several types of lodging to search for: hotels, motels, bed & breakfast, local lodges, local outfitters, state park cabins, camping areas, and if a turkey hunter is lucky enough to own a camper, camp water/electricity hookups. Finding and reserving lodging, preferably in close proximity to the hunting location, is vital. When making reservations, it is helpful to know if they have an onsite laundry room, in-room refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and complimentary WiFi, if those amenities will be used.
The typical weather in the location of the hunt is important to know. A turkey hunter does not want to arrive in Montana, in May, with primarily spring green camouflage only to find several feet of snow on the ground. Nor does the turkey hunter want to take mid-weight camouflage to Florida for a spring Osceola hunt. It is important to match your clothing to the hunt in color and in clothing style and weight. Finding the average weather for that state during the time you will be hunting can be researched online at websites such as U.S. Climate Data, a favorite weather program or app, or by obtaining information from the state agency.
Preparing For The Hunt
Having an idea of the type of terrain and the type of hunting to expect, whether it be long scouting hikes, run and gun hunts, blind hunting in high traffic areas or a combination of hunting styles, it is important to be physically prepared for the hunt. For security, it is often advisable to group or buddy hunt which also makes for great camaraderie; this is not always possible. If a turkey hunter is hunting solo, it is imperative to have basic survival skill tactics or emergency measures available. Some safeguards the turkey hunter can take are:
- Know the local park ranger’s or game warden’s information.
- Take a power bank with charging cable for recharging a cell phone.
- Have a printed map of the area with waypoints marked on the map.
- Have a flashlight, preferably USB rechargeable with power bank.
- Carry a small First Aid kit.
- Stay hydrated with water, Sqwincher Fast Packs and carry portable protein snacks in the field.
- Take a decent sized cooler for food, snacks, water, and be sure to have enough room to bring your turkey meat back!
When deciding on gear, as a seasoned turkey hunter has a good idea of what they will need for turkey hunting. Adding a blind and blind chair to the packing list that is easy to carry is a good idea. It is better to have a blind available than to need it and not have it when finding the perfect high traffic area for an all-day sit or for inclement weather.
Out Of State Turkey Hunting Gear| Turkey Vest Checklist
When preparing for an out of state do-it-yourself turkey hunt, make a packing list and use it to ensure nothing gets left behind. This sounds like a trivial step but it is extremely important when hunting in remote areas where there will not likely be an establishment to buy a replacement. Starting with a good quality turkey vest that can be worn comfortably for extended periods in the field and has plenty of secure pockets ensuring that there is a place for everything. Fill the turkey vest with quality gear such as:
- Bushnell Bone Collector Edition Trophy XLT binoculars
- Various turkey calls (Razors Edge Box, Turkey Magnet Push/Pull, Diva Diaphragm Series, Owl Locator), sand paper/call sweetener.
- Heavy magnum shot shells
- Pruning shears
- All-purpose knife like the Havalon Rebel
- Quart-sized Ziploc bags which can be used to keep electronics/cell phone in if it rains
- ThermaCELL Repeller
- Quality rangefinder such as the Bushnell Bone Collector LRF
Knowing the terrain can lead to needing a different choke and ammo combination. If a turkey hunt is going to take place in terrain that will require longer shots, a tighter choke and extended range shot shells will be necessary. If the turkey hunt will take place where closer shots will be more prominent, it will be to the turkey hunter’s advantage to use less choke constriction, which will result in a wider pattern at shorter distances.
When selecting the perfect turkey decoy setup, the turkey hunter will want to be selective, carrying the minimum amount possible to remain mobile in the field. Use quality decoys for the best success. Always carry decoys in a decoy bag for safety. On public land, it is not safe to carry the decoy or simply stuffing it into the turkey hunter’s vest where a portion of it could be seen by another turkey hunter and mistaken for a live turkey.
Upon leaving for the out of state do-it-yourself turkey hunt, the gear list should be checked and double checked, making sure that printed maps, lodging information/confirmation, and license/permit, if hard copies were mailed, are packed and making the trip.
Often traveling at night will give hunters the advantage of saving valuable hunting daylight for scouting and hunting. Upon arrival at the destination, a turkey hunter will want to get out and familiarize themselves with the area, so it is not unlikely to hit the ground running shortly after checking in. It is much easier to find parking and access areas and to get the bearings of the property from maps if the hunter will spend some time the first day or afternoon doing so; this can save a lot of time later. For better odds of a successful hunt, spend as much time in the field and hunt hard; success is often equivalent to the time and miles you put in.
From planning to execution, a turkey hunter can successfully execute an out of state do-it-yourself turkey hunt with proper preparation. Turkey hunting is definitely more about skill and strategy than luck. By doing much of the research from home, making phone calls, sending emails, requesting maps, building a contact list, securing lodging and scouting the hunting land from afar, a turkey hunter is investing in the success of that hunt. Do-it-yourself hunts require a lot of work and time but the rewards are boundless. Even without a successful harvest, often the experience is more rewarding than ever expected.
Turkey Hunting Basics
Beyond these helpful tips for planning an out of state turkey hunt, do you know the basics of turkey hunting? Check out the articles below as they just might mean the difference between a successful or failed turkey hunt!
Turkey Decoy Strategies