Keys to Turkey Hunting Success

Learn the Key to Turkey Hunting Success

Pretty bold, eh? Read this article and learn the secret to turkey hunting success. Consider the following scenarios.

#1 The Pennsylvania Corn Crib

It’s 6 AM and a dozen turkeys march around a corn crib on this neighboring cattle ranch that adjoins a hunting property and are unseen by anyone. It is just a small piece in a large puzzle. The corn crib gate is open to allow a front end loader to scoop up a huge load of corn for daily cattle feeding. The ranch is a busy place but spilled corn is everywhere and makes for easy pickings for the turkey birds passing through. At 6:15 AM, binoculars tell the full story. The birds eventually begin a slow march across a flat, green pasture and cover a couple hundred yards, cross a property line and enter the woods. It is clockwork and predictable. Bird sightings – 90%  Turkey Rating: EASY

turkey call strikers for slate calls - slate call strikers
Pictured are 8 different strikers of different wood types. A ceramic call on the left
and a slate call to the right. Different strikers will produce remarkably different
sounds on the same call. A box call is the old standby. Whether hunting with a shotgun,
 crossbow or traditional bow, a good turkey calling technique will bring the birds close.


#2 The Pennsylvania Mountain

A man in good shape would need an hour and a half to travel to to the top of this mountain on established trails to get to the fields at the summit before shooting time. Go off trail and fallen leaves cover slick rocks on steep grades making travel slow. Go too fast and a man will break a bone. Take an ATV and you might never see a bird. The turkeys are hard to find and are hard to figure out. They roost on the mountainsides. It makes for an easy glide down to the ground at sunrise but there is a lot of mountain. The birds are not predictable like the cattle ranch turkeys and are less numerous. They also are quiet and are less vocal after years of hunting pressure. Birds that “gobble” aggressively end up dead so the “gobbling gene” is slowly bred out. (That is my theory.) Public hunting pressure is high. Bird sightings – 25%. Turkey Rating: HARD

making a slate turkey call
Our Pro Staffer, Rob, using a drill press to hollow out the pot for a slate call. Again, different types of woods will produce different sounds. Here, Rob is working with a Zebrawood board making a call. Eventually, Rob gifted this specific call to Chuck at Kodabow and it was used to call in several birds. Rob is a scientist and has refined the depth and height  measurements of the pot type calls over the years to produce highly effective and exceptional tonal qualities.


#3 The Pennsylvania Orchard

A small patch of private land behind the orchard is home to several birds. Rarely hunted, the turkeys roost in the same trees every year. Touch that slate call at 5:45 in the morning and the gobbling response is powerful. Your heart rate jumps 100 beats per minute. Get into position quietly and a hunter will observe the birds fly down with precision — nearly always within 100 yards of a fallen oak tree. In the evening, the same position provides a good view of the birds milling about before flying up into the same group of trees. Bird Sightings – 90%  Turkey Rating: EASY

successful turkey hunter
Our Kodabow Pro Staff member, Matt, with his 2017 Spring Turkey. While we might rate different hunting grounds from EASY to HARD, killing a turkey is never a layup. Turkey anatomy makes for a small effective kill zone and a big bird like this can be very wary and cautious at times. Any hunter movement will send the bird over to the next township.


#4 The Pennsylvania Canoe Trip

Take a boat up a creek for a 20 minute paddle and reach public land that is nearly unreachable by any other method. Most hunters won’t fool with a boat and far less will walk 2 hours in the dark uphill and then downhill to pristine woods to Spring Turkey hunt which is the only other option to get to this spot. Walking in from the road requires a hunter to leave in the early morning at an ungodly hour for an unforgiving hike and the killer part is the uphill/downhill mix. Compared to Scenario #1 which was just a single uphill, this hike is a ball buster because it requires 2 uphill climbs. One going in and another getting out. There is a reason why many deer and turkeys are killed with 200 yards of a road. Take a boat.  Bird Sightings – 80%  Turkey Rating: MODERATE but REAL HARD without a boat.

Where you hunt is the most significant predictor of success.

“Hunting Ground” and  “Access” has little to do with skill. Well…..maybe it is the special skill that some hunters have to secure great hunting spots –  either through contacts or money. Keep in mind that a seasoned hunter with a “great place” will have many more opportunities for action and shot opportunities. Other hunters are not around. The game animals will be less pressured and will be more predictable in movement.  When new hunters see all the “trophy – look at me photos”, they can get discouraged if they are hunting HARD ground. Don’t be too tough on yourself if you hunt a challenging environment. We have all been there. Not every hunt is like the Outdoor TV Shows where the hunting grounds are often REAL, REAL EASY. Take action to improve your situation and consider the “super human” effort required to travel to better ground. One morning, I slept in the backup of a pickup truck getting to sleep at midnight. I just finished a 2 1/2 hour drive to get to this special spot which required leaving the house at 9:30 PM. I walked up hill in the dark alone –  leaving the truck at 3:30 AM (with 3 hours sleep) just to be in position a first shooting light. The end result was a tagged turkey. There are better and easier ways to hunt but the payback was a satisfaction level that was off the charts. A walk down the mountain carrying a 25 lb bird is priceless. The moral of the story is do the best you can with what you have — and realize that abundance of game on different ground is significant as you can tell from these 4 different scenarios.

My best — and have a great hunt in your quest for turkey hunting success (which means you don’t always shoot!)

Chuck @ Kodabow