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How To Plan the Perfect DIY Turkey Hunt

How To Plan the Perfect DIY Turkey Hunt

If you have an adventuresome spirit, consider an out-of-state foray for turkeys. As a serious bowhunter, you will most certainly be looking for a break from wintertime doldrums, so be sure to get the juices flowing by thumping a few yard-birds.

Have a good system for getting your gear into the field, and be able to erect your setup quietly under the cover of darkness. Mobility and flexibility are keys to success when tackling new ground.


All good turkey outings start with long nights spent in front of a computer. Choose a state/habitat that you wish to explore from Arizona to Montana, and then get some applications submitted. Spring turkey deadlines pass very early in the year for western states, so don't get caught with your pants down on this one.

Make your springtime much more exciting by traveling to an "exotic" turkey destination. Head west to check out some great scenery and hunt for a Merriam!

Conversely, many states offer over-the-counter tags, so be sure to have backup plans formulated for such destinations in case of rejection in the lottery process. Peruse through G&F websites, archery chat rooms and/or any other source available, for tidbits of information available concerning special hunting opportunities that fly under the radar. And don't overlook the fact that many states offer bow-only seasons that provide a chance to access birds before the "militia" has had a chance to educates/hammer them.

Once you've determined your hunting destination, be sure to get the public hunting atlas for that state/area, and go to work. Dig deep, and never underestimate the potential productivity of small, isolated properties. Put your study of public access parcels in-line with careful dissection of Google Earth views. And while you are on Google Earth, be sure to look over other areas of prime habitat that catch your eye — even if they are private.

So prepared, you can then spend some of your midday times in an attempt to gain access to a private-land spot that you might be able to call all your own. Actually, it often seems that many western landowners can be rather amused at – or, feel sorry for – a hapless turkey bowhunter that is far from his home. Just remember — respect and courtesy can go a long way with an old cowboy, especially when they're combined with sad eyes!

Have good hard copies of the area where you'll be exploring, and after carefully putting them in conjunction with aerial imagery, make specific notes on savvy gleaned. Formulate a methodical plan of attack for the first few days of your hunt so that you won't feel lost or frustrated with early efforts. After a few days spent executing a well-formed plan of attack, chances are you'll then start sailing by the seat of your pants and productivity will shoot through the roof. Confidence and familiarity breed success!

Make It An Adventure!

Since we all know that bowhunting turkey's isn't big-game hunting — and ain't rocket-science, either — we should seek to inject some adventure and excitement into this project. Pick up some new gear for your trip, as this will be a grand time to field-test some new stuff for a hoped black-bear outing that lies only be a few weeks down the road. Or maybe even a pronghorn trip only a few months away? Herein lies a great chance to break in some new boots, spend a few nights in the new bivvy sack, and hopefully, to test out a new bow.

And be sure to have all the necessary support gear to bowhunt birds successfully. I'll always have a great decoy setup, a Double Bull blind, and a good way to strap all this bulky gear onto a backpack. Take a couple of calls to the blind – slate, mouth or box — it's your choice. A lightweight folding chair is almost a necessity, and be sure to practice shooting from a sitting/kneeling position.

Turkeys aren't always where you expect them to be, especially Merriams. All it takes for a western bird to be at home is a lone tree to roost in. Don't be surprised to find them in extremely open habitats.

It's also very important to understand proper shot placement on turkeys, and to be patient at the moment of truth, as to allow your gobbler ample time to position himself for the shot. Since a turkey can be very difficult to anchor, I prefer a wide-cut, fixed-blade broadhead. There's no room for mechanical failures with this choice.


Here's a gorgeous Merriam gobbler in full display, highlighted by the morning sun. Rather sadly — for him at least — it was his last sunrise as he was headed for the Claypool's grill!

Another aspect of the hunt that should receive attention to detail, revolves around developing a good system for erecting your blind and decoy setup quickly and quietly in the dark. Many has been the time when I've spotted birds going to roost in an area, and realized that I needed to be right there the next morning. Being able to slip into a spot reasonably close to roosted birds and quietly set up my gear is always a real success booster.


Certainly, there's plenty of fun to be had on a springtime turkey bowhunt. Maybe make a roundabout while you're at it, covering more than one state. A great way to break up the monotony of a winter spent groveling over yet-distant big-game seasons, turkeys are a great way to stay off the golf course. Put a few birds in your pot — and while you're at it, gain some great access to a future deer hunting location!

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