A turkey’s intelligence may not be as important as their sharpness of senses if you are looking for a successful hunt. However, one should account for both as the theory that turkeys are dumb animals might not necessarily be true.
Oddly enough, even though turkeys have no external ears, they are still equipped with a keen sense of hearing. Their visual field is about 270 degrees, allowing them to spot movement as far as 100 yards away. Though they have a poor sense of smell, they do have great taste senses. A turkey’s perceived lack of intelligence can be somewhat explained by a genetic condition called tetanic torticollar spasm that many turkeys suffer, which puts them in a 30-second stare no matter what’s happening around them.
Keeping all of this in mind can help you bag a wild turkey, but there is another challenging element in the fate of a turkey hunt—and that element is you. Here are a few hunting mistakes to avoid.
Lack of Scouting & Poor Prepping
One of the biggest sins a turkey hunter can make is to fail to scout the hunting area. Too often, unsuccessful hunters fail because they didn’t understand the roosting habits of the nearby turkeys, their movement patterns, or strutting areas. They fail to learn more of the birds’ behaviors in hot and cold weather, or what they do when it rains or if the wind picks up. Getting to know the area as well as how the turkeys use it may lead to a much bigger success rate. The more you scout, the more meat you harvest.
Not Making Proper Calls
It is commonly said you are only as good as your equipment, but in the case of turkey hunting, it’s just as important that you use the equipment effectively. From riflescopes to camouflage clothing, to turkey calls and bows—the right gear, used properly, is crucial. Turkey calls are an art form, and they come in many different forms, such as a slate or paddle box. Cadence is key to successfully drawing in the birds.
Too much of a good thing is, well, too much. And as far as turkey hunting goes, calling too often can discourage the birds. Instead, you want to draw him in, get him interested enough to come in and then sit back silently and wait for him to come into view. Once the bird is at the roost, tone down your calling, continue softly until he’s made a commitment to enter the area. If he starts to turn away, that’s when you begin increasing your calls. Always adjust the loudness of your calls with the wind, as louder bird calls may be needed for stronger winds.
Losing Your Patience
If it’s been too long since a bird has come in or if you can’t seem to ever strike a bird off the roost, the most common urge is to give up and move to another spot. This, however, can be a mistake. Remember that setting up the right position, scoping an area, and avoiding startling the birds all takes time. Commit to a spot and bide your time—with the right call and plenty of patience, it will pay off in the end.
Your spot has a good range of sight, you know the birds are roosting nearby, and you’re confident with your calls. Don’t make the mistake of not accounting for obstructions between them and you. Turkeys aren’t keen on hurdling objects or obstructions like fences, creeks, or steep draws to respond to a call. When you’re calling a roosted turkey, be sure that the pathway between him and you is clear.