Not Getting Busted with These 5 Turkey Hunting Tactics
Every turkey hunter has been busted more than once. Turkey hunting is about patience. Few spring turkey hunts start and end with a longbeard racing to get within 20 yards of your turkey hunting setup. Rather, you spend days in the spring woods putting your turkey hunting tactics to work in an effort to not get busted. These turkey hunting tips should help that effort!
5 Turkey Hunting Tactics for Not Getting Busted
Hundreds of things can happen while turkey hunting. Most of them, if they do, get you busted before you even have the chance to take the shot. These five turkey hunting tactics, however, will save you from getting busted.
- Use the Right Setup
- Perfect Run and Gun Turkey Hunting
- Avoid Common Turkey Decoy Mistakes
- Sound Like a Real Turkey
- Take Concealment Seriously
#1 Use the Right Turkey Hunting Setup
Bad setups get more hunters busted than anything else. Why? Because setup is everything. If you don’t have it right, your hunt will be over before you even see the gobbler. One of the most common ways to hunt turkeys is to set up well in advance and call the birds in. Follow these turkey hunting setup tips below for this situation:
- Get comfortable – That gobbler may come right in or could hang up for hours. A back and forth between you and a gobbler is impossible when your setup is not comfortable. In uncomfortable setups, you are more likely to move and not be focused on what it takes to finish the job. Clear all the debris around your setup and have a good turkey hunting chair or pad to keep you comfortable and ready at all times.
- Don’t set up right under roosted birds – How many times have you roosted a bird the night before? You set up right under him the next morning only to blow him off the roost going in! An effective turkey hunting strategy is to set up back from a roosted bird in an area that is to your advantage. Pick a spot with good cover and amble shooting lanes, then call him to you.
- Your view, not his – A big mistake in the setup is trying to see too far. You want to be able to see far enough but not too far that he can see you. The best turkey hunting setup is one where you are concealed but the bird has to come from a different level. Rolling terrain, thickets and other landscape features between you and him will be just enough to have him make those last steps to see what’s going on.
#2 Run and Gun Turkey Hunting
Run and gun turkey hunting is one of the most favored tactics to use when hunting turkeys. Any turkey hunter knows that run and gun turkey hunting is effective and often a necessity when times get tough. Where hunters get busted the most in this situation is from panic. You catch a gobbler sounding off in the distance and immediately rush to sit down and set up. The fear turkey hunters have is any additional movement will get them busted. However, you are better off taking your time to set up than rushing it. Stop, don’t panic or become overly excited, and evaluate where you are. Instead of sitting down at the nearest tree, find a concealed spot in cover.
A turkey vest that has the technical aspects considered in pocket room and placement allows you to have your calls and gear at your fingertips. This can remove fatal flaws in movement in this situation. Make sure your vantage point has a good line of sight to where you think he will be coming from. Doing so will make sure you have plenty of time to adjust, reach any gear, and create a shot opportunity. One tactic often used in this situation is aptly turkey reaping. Turkey reaping, not to be confused with turkey fanning, can be one of the most intense turkey hunting tactic employed by a hunter. If the gobbler is held up, henned up, or just isn’t committing to your original setup, it might be time to go after him.
While in most situations you want to be concealed, turkey reaping flips the script. A hunter needs to present himself to the tom as another stutter. The idea is that this tactic evokes an aggressive reaction. Watch below to see both Nick Mundt and Michael Waddell master the tactic of turkey reaping.
#3 Avoid Turkey Decoy Mistakes that Get You Busted
More goes into using decoys for turkey hunting than you might think. Turkey hunters who are successful year after year understand how not to make these three mistakes when using decoys as part of their turkey hunting tactics.
- Using the wrong decoys– There are many types of turkey decoys you could be using such as a boss gobbler, jakes or hens including combinations of each. Where hunters get busted is when they have the wrong decoys out for the situation. A big strutting tom decoy is effective early but can spook turkeys later in the season. Hen setups are consistently effective throughout the year and are your best bet when using decoys as part of your turkey hunting strategy.
- Decoys are too far away– Too many hunters put their decoys out at their max shooting distance. What happens? A bird comes in and hangs up at 70 yards while strutting and gobbling to your decoys at 40 yards. One of the best turkey hunting tips for using decoys is to set them up at 15- to 20-yards so that when the bird hangs up, and he will, he is within range.
- Decoys are right in front of you– One of the turkey hunting basics is to not put your decoys directly in front of you. The reason is that then you are directly in line with the approaching gobbler’s sight. He is focused on the decoys but will pick you out for sure because you are directly behind them. Offset your decoys to avoid getting busted. Place them at a 45-degree angle from your nonshooting hand and you will stay out of his sight as he approaches.
#4 Calling Spring Gobblers Without Getting Busted
All your other turkey hunting tactics may be sound, however, your calling can be why you keep getting busted. Even the slightest movement can hurt you. So how do you call effectively when a big tom is hung up just out of shooting range? Two schools of thought.
One, you stop calling altogether and wait him out. This prevents you from making any additional movement but takes almost all the control out of your hands. The second thought is you keep calling to entice him in. Now each bird is different so you have to make a judgment based on how each bird has reacted to that point. This will then determine whether he will be receptive to more calling or it will spook him off.
Calling spring gobblers when they are in close is dangerous. Like we mentioned, any movement is going to get you busted. So how do you do it? Two ways, first you use mouth calls and try to call with subtle tones. Turkey mouth calls give you hands-free calling ability while maintaining the back and forth chatter to seal the deal. Not every case with a mouth call will work. For instance, pressured birds may have already been busted by a hunter using mouth calls. Here you need to change up. But what are your other options when they are in close?
The second option when the mouth call is ineffective is to go to the trusted friction call. The Turkey Magnet Push/Pull Box Call offers the benefits of a friction call combined with an innovative hands-free design. This call attaches via a magnet to your shotgun and allows you to yelp, cluck and purr completely out of sight of an approaching gobbler.
Another way you can be busted when calling spring gobblers is by calling too much. If you get busted from calling, most likely it is because you are calling too much. In nature, few birds are talking all day, all the time. A boss gobbler will pick up on your overcalling and realize something is up. Keep it natural and maintain your volume and intervals between calls. Don’t get overly excited and call too much. How you call and the amount you call comes with experience and varies by each gobbler you encounter. Bottom lineis less calling over longer intervals typically lets you tag out more gobblers than overcalling does.
#5 Concealment Matters
One of the more often overlooked turkey hunting tactics to avoid being spotted by turkeys is camo selection. Turkey hunting clothing should be one of your tools to keep you concealed, not a dead giveaway that keeps you from killing birds.
Spring gobblers become more educated every day by hunters who fail in a tactic mentioned above, or with poor camo selection. The spring woods is full of light and green vegetation. You need to adapt your camo selections to match. The new EDGE™ camo pattern from Realtree® brings together concealment at close range while disrupting your outline at a distance. A perfect combination for turkey hunting. No matter what turkey hunting clothing you wear, make sure the camo is not faded and matches well into the area you hunt. Not thinking about camo as part of your turkey hunting tactics will leave you busted every time.
Turkey Hunting Strategies for When You Do Get Busted
The 5 turkey hunting tactics above will help to keep you from getting busted…but what strategies do you implement when you do get busted? Many hunters believe that if a bird spooks, the hunt is over. Well, that is not necessarily true.
The first thing to remember is to keep your cool, be patient and allow some time for the bird and the woods to calm down. Allow at least 30 minutes before moving or calling after spooking a gobbler. Turkeys get spooked all the time by hikers, farmers, or any other person in the woods where you are hunting. It’s not uncommon and a bird will generally return to the area where he was disturbed if it is a place where he wants to be.
After you let the area settle back down, try to gain some ground on the bird that just busted you. Spot and stalk in the direction he escaped to. Moving towards him as much as possible and then set up to call. Moving location and proceeding to call again makes it seem like a new hen to him. Call softly and infrequently in this situation. This deception can be enough to get him to come back in.
Sometimes a busted bird takes off to the next ridge and setting back up is pointless. A better turkey hunting tactic is to back out and let the area rest for a day. Remember a gobbler has about a month to breed and if you busted him from an area with hen activity it won’t take him long to forget that incident and come back. In this situation, not calling can work in your favor. Come in the next day, set up your turkey hunting chair and decoys and wait for him quietly. A hot area will produce if you wait it out even though you may have been busted the day before.
To summarize, it is inevitable that a turkey will get the better of you at some point. Implementing effective turkey hunting tactics is the only way you can be sure you beat that longbeard more often than not.