As Thanksgiving is coming upon us, I take time to reflect on what is considered a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in my household. Mash potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, yams with marshmallows, stuffing or dressing, and to go with the cranberries you need a turkey. I have never hunted turkey, as the local supermarket is so close and convenient. But with more and more chemicals and preservatives being added I am starting to give it some thought. Here are some of the things I considered when planning a turkey hunt.
The first thing to look into would be your state and local laws. (As an example, in Idaho where we are located. Turkey hunting starts September 15 and closes various times through October. There is a 2-turkey limit and you can shoot either sex.) Most of the information you need can be found in local hunting regulations or online through your local fish and wildlife website. Some important things to look for are areas that you can hunt, allowable methods of harvest, and if you can hunt toms, hens, or both.
Once you have looked over the rules, and know when and where next comes the how. The most common way to hunt turkey is by using a shotgun. Other less common weapons of choice are muzzleloaders or bow and arrow. No matter which weapon system you choose, make sure to familiarize yourself with it and get plenty of practice. It makes no sense to go to the field being inexperienced with your shotgun, muzzleloader or bow. I also like to know and practice immediate action drills and field stripping, in case there is an issue. I would not want a simple mistake to ruin a day or weekend of time in the outdoors.
A little research on turkeys shows that turkeys do not have a great sense of smell but have great eyesight. So, you will need to find a place that you can sit still for a long period of time.
Warm clothing, Camo that matches the terrain, and a turkey call are common tools used. And the more you know the better. If you have time scout out the area before the season to see where you think the best place will be.
Here are some safety tips (recommended by Idaho Fish and Game) when you choose to go hunt or when in the outdoors in general during turkey hunting season.
1. Positively identify your target.
2. Assume every noise and movement is another hunter.
3. Never stalk a turkey or turkey sound.
4. Don’t wear red, white, or blue.
5. Protect your back.
6. Shout “Stop” to alert approaching hunters.
7. Make your position known to other hunters.
8. Preselect a zone of fire.
9. Choose safe, ethical hunting companions.
10. Practice courtesy and self-control at all times.
What have you found is the best way to hunt for turkey?
Good luck and stay safe.