However, it IS possible to sneak up on a hunter hunting turkeys. Especially if you’re mistaking his turkey call for a turkey’s turkey call. What might happen next does nothing good for anyone, including the industry that makes a living outfitting turkey hunters to look like military snipers deep in the heart of enemy territory. So the National Wild Turkey Federation—not to be confused with the Federation of Wild Turkey Drinkers (I just made that up)—have published a list of 10 Tips to Consider When You’re in the Woods. They’re all important, but they do make you wonder about relative brain sizes between man and foul . . .

  • Leave the area if you suspect there’s another hunter already working the same bird.
  • Resist the urge to stalk turkey sounds. It is nearly impossible to sneak up on a turkey. It is also unethical and could lead to an accident.
  • Select a spot that is in open timber rather than thick brush: wearing camouflage clothing and eliminating movement is more critical to success than hiding in heavy cover.
  • Sit against a large stump, blow-down, tree trunk or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head when calling wild turkeys.
  • Never wear bright colors, especially not red, white, blue or black because these are the colors of a wild turkey gobbler. Watch out for red, white or blue on your socks, t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, hats, bandannas, etc. Wear dark undershirts and socks, and pants long enough to be tucked into boots.
  • Remain still and speak in a loud, clear voice to announce your presence to other hunters if necessary. Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence.
  • Keep your hands and head camouflaged when calling.
  • Maintain a clear field of view when using a camouflage blind or netting.
  • Ensure your decoy is not visible when you are transporting it. Stash the decoy in your vest and make sure the head is not sticking out. If you harvest a wild turkey during your hunting trip, you also should cover the bird’s head and body when carrying it out from your hunting spot.
  • Put your gun’s safety on and approach the downed bird with your firearm pointed in a safe direction after firing. Never run with a firearm.

 

14 Responses to “It is nearly impossible to sneak up on a turkey”

  1. Having successfully taken 4 birds in 4 years (spring, plus 3 in the fall), I will say that these are good tips to “refresh” someone heading out to the fields. Hunters tend to take precautions when deer hunting, but seem a bit lax when spring gobbler comes around. I suspect it is because we’re all carrying shotguns around instead of .30-cal rifles.

  2. I’ve often wondered if camo actually makes any difference at all. I’ve hunted moose without it, duck without it, bear without it, and rabbit without it. Heck when I was a kid I even hunted (unwillingly of course) with a bunch of stumbling drunks without camo. It made no difference that I could see in regard to the success of the hunt. We always came out with something. In fact during moose/duck season where I am from any smart hunter wears a bright orange hat or one of those crazy ‘glows in the day’ vests – you know, the one that makes your eyes all watery if you stare long enough?

    My grandfather always said that wearing camo makes no difference to whether the animal sees you or not. He says that the animals are accustomed to picking out movement among those colors (brown, black, etc…) so crazy orange and whatnot is completely out of their range to see. Whether this is true or not I don’t know.

    For me, and my thinking and experience, I think most hunters wear the camo for themselves and the cool factor. Overkill, as seen in the photo is common.

  3. They are funny birds. When I lived in Maryland sometimes I would randomly see a flock walking across the driveway, yet my next door neighbor rarely bagged any when he was hunting them.

    • LOL. Sounds like the moose in Newfoundland. All over the roads and running up city streets when out of season but then deep in the woods and all ghostly when hunting season comes round.

    • I think what they’re trying to say is that it’s unethical to shoot a roosting turkey. Which you can sneak up on, BTW. I’ve done it dozens of times. I haven’t hunted turkeys in years, but seems the law stated something to that effect.

      Another issue is that several seasons overlap. You’ll have archery for deer, shotgun for turkey and squirrel, black powder, etc. all in the woods at the same time. Some walking, some waiting, etc.

      • Don is correct – a turkey in roost is easy to find (and shoot), although I think the regulations say that you can’t shoot them in a tree, or 15-min before sunrise, or after 12pm (for spring gobbler at least). A small group of turkeys, especially a tom and his ladies, will be 99.99995% impossible to sneak up on or stalk. A lone Jake looking for some action may be too “caught up in the moment” and may be able to be stalked or followed. Getting close enough to shoot with a shotgun will be difficult to say the least. Turkeys are “day time” creatures and have vision which has evolved accordingly. They have a higher density of cone structures, which makes them very color sensitive and have relatively high resolution power. Deer and similar animals are nocturnal and their vision has adapted accordingly as well. They have higher rod density and are designed for better “low light” vision. This means they are mostly color-blind or “color limited” and have poor resolution. Deer also have eyes which are far apart, meaning they cannot focus on one point with both eyes – greatly diminishing depth perception. This is the reason, or at least the assumption, as to why so many deer are hit on the roads. They need to “see” and object, and then see if it is getting bigger or smaller to determine if it is coming at them or going away from them. With a car traveling at 60+ MPH, by the time they figure it out, they are already too late.

      • Ah, I see. Thanks all for the explanations. I don’t hunt and know little more than deer jerky/bologna/roast the hunters bring into work tastes good. 😉

  4. In my wildlife management course in high school we read a bunch of accident reports. I can’t remember many off the top of my head but the one where the guy shot his friend in the foot because he though it “looked like a squirrel”. I don’t remember everything leading up to it but I think it was one guy was sitting and camouflaged while the other guy was coming back into the area and saw the first man move his leg and thought his brown boot was a squirrel. It sounds like they were probably drunk but I don’t think it actually said if they were.

  5. “It is nearly impossible to sneak up on a turkey”

    So I guess that sneaking up on mikeb is out of the question.

  6. Wild turkeys are nothing like their domesticated cousins.

    Wild turkeys have color vision, as noted by Patrick Carrube. They are smart critters. It takes skill and patience to bag a wild turkey. A really long shot in turkey hunting is 45 yards or 50 yards.

  7. I hunt in Alabama and sometimes the birds just don’t work well. A gobbler will come if he wants and won’t if he does’nt. I killed two gobblers this year that I did a sneak on, both older birds. It’s not the first time I’ve killed birds that way and probably not the last. I think that if I can do that in their living room, in legal hunting season then so be it.

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