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Turkey Hunting

How to Call in Your First Turkey

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Long before I started bowhunting whitetails, I was a die-hard turkey hunter. I would look forward to May 1st each year and get excited when the opening day finally arrived anticipating that first gobble.

Dad and I would wake up at 3:00 a.m. get ready and make the hour-long drive upstate to the turkey woods each morning. By the time we got to the woods, geared up and made it to the turkey tree the woods were just beginning to come alive with the sounds of turkeys. Dad would go one way and I’d head off in another direction in hopes we’d both score on a longbeard.

Heading out on my own at a young age forced me to learn how to call turkeys quick – after all, if I didn’t do it on my own it wasn’t getting done!

Learning how to call can be intimidating, but there are a few things you can do to make the learning process go smoothly. Before you can ever call a turkey in you need to understand how a turkey talks and what a turkey means when they call a certain way – it’s almost like learning a second language.

To start I recommend visiting the National Wild Turkey Federation website and listening to the various recordings they have of live turkeys. They have everything from clucks and purrs to gobbles and fly down cackles: http://www.nwtf.org/all_about_turkeys/calling_tips.html. The second part of that, understanding what a turkey means when they call a certain way, comes from experience in the turkey woods. When starting out, the best thing you can do if you hear another hen is mimic her – you might even get her mad enough to come in looking for a fight and bringing the longbeard along with her!

Once you understand how the turkeys talk it’s time to pick up a call and start making some sounds. One of the easiest calls to start off with is the push button call. The push button call allows you to make putts, yelps, clucks and purrs all with the push of a finger. This is the easiest way to make some of the most basic turkey sounds and a great way to call in your first bird.

The downside to the push-button call it’s not hands-free so you’ll only have one hand on your gun or bow while you’re calling. However, less is more in the turkey woods and over calling can hurt you. In most cases you’ll use the call to make a few yelps and purrs and then set the call down to let the gobbler work its way in and search for the hen. Remember, in the turkey woods the hens seek out the gobblers, not the other way around. So if you call too much the gobbler is likely to stay put and wait for you, the hen, to come to him.

Another great call to start on is the box call. It’s a loud call that’s great for locating birds and it’s very easy to make yelps and cut on. On double-sided box calls you can even make gobbles. Personally, I prefer a single-sided box call and find them great to use as a locater call after my first set up on a morning hunt.

One thing to note with box calls and push button calls is that not all calls are waterproof. Unless they have a special coating on them these calls will not work if they get wet during a rainy day hunt.

Friction calls and diaphragm calls are both a little harder to use, but in my opinion produce the most realistic turkey sounds and allow you to get creative with your calling. I actually use these calls together at the same time to sound like two hens. This helps get a gobbler excited and makes him want to come running in to find the ladies! For tips on using friction calls and diaphragm calls check out World Champion turkey caller Preston Pittman’s website: http://www.pittmangamecalls.com/tips/.

After a while you start to talk like a turkey and then you’re ready for some advance calling. Check out this video of Preston Pittman in action:

Turkey hunting is incredibly challenging, but being able to speak to the birds and convince them you’re just another turkey is one of the coolest experiences you can have as a hunter. You’re heart starts racing, the adrenaline gets flowing and the woods come alive with the sounds of turkeys.

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Turkey Hunting

Spring Turkey Season Opens May 1 in New York

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Bowhunters take to the woods this spring after weary old gobblers in New York.

It’s my favorite time of year after deer season – the spring turkey season (probably because it’s the only other time I’m out hunting with my bow). Following suit of previous seasons, the 2014 spring turkey season opens May 1 in all of upstate New York lying north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary and the annual youth turkey hunting weekend is April 26-27. The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York and Suffolk County.

Not nearly as popular as deer hunting, there only 100,000 turkey hunters expected to head afield this spring. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can’t get excited about calling to a bird and have it respond and watch it work its way in. It’s a very interactive hunt.

According to the DEC, hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their small game hunting or sportsman license (if purchased before Feb. 1) or hunting license (if purchased after Feb. 1).

  • Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.
  • Hunters may take two bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only one bird per day.
  • Hunters may not use rifles or handguns firing a bullet. Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or handgun loaded with shot sizes no larger than No. 2 or smaller than No. 8, or with a bow and arrow.
  • Crossbows may not be used for the spring 2014 turkey season.
  • Successful hunters must fill out the tag that comes with their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested.
  • Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird.

One thing that caught my eye is that the state’s enacted 2014-15 budget includes language authorizing the use of crossbows for hunting under certain circumstances. So while hunters cannot use crossbows to take wild turkey during the 2014 spring season, they might be able to in 2015. It will be interesting to see if the changes go through for next year and what affect that would have on the number of hunters taking to the field for turkey hunting.

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Turkey Hunting

Bowhunting Turkey in New York

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Teresa took this big longbeard on the opening day of the 2012 Spring Turkey Hunting Season in Orange County, New York. This is Teresa’s first turkey kill and she got the job done with a heart-pounding 23-yard shot. Congrats to Teresa on an awesome longbeard!

Did you have success this spring? It was tough with the warm weather we had in April before the opener.

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Turkey Hunting

NY Bowhunter Takes Turkey During Fall Archery Season

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Last Friday morning my cousin Ken had the day off to enjoy a day afield. He was set up in his tree well before first light, but the morning was really slow and Ken only saw one deer. The tall spike came down the hill 50 yards to his right and kept on walking to wherever it was that he was going.

With no rubs or scrapes in the general area, Ken and his father Nick decided to hunt a different area that afternoon. On the drive to their hunting spot that afternoon they spotted a flock of turkeys and ten deer out in a field just a few door down from where they would be hunting.

Ken headed to his stand at the top of the hill and waited in anticipation for the deer and turkey to leave the field and move back into the hardwoods. Around 5:00 pm the woods exploded with noise and movement and the deer and turkey came barreling through the woods. Shortly after, Ken heard a lady yelling at her dog who must have decided it would be fun to chase the deer and turkeys out of the nearby field.

Then Ken heard a single turkey coming towards him from the bottom of the hill. Ken got ready and drew back with the bird at 20 yards. The bird took two more steps and Ken made a chirping sound to stop it and let the arrow fly. The bird only made it a few more yards before going down.

Congrats to Ken on taking a turkey with the bow, that’s never an easy thing!

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