By Bob Humphrey
When I started turkey hunting back in the early 1980s, there wasn’t a whole lot of instructional information around on how to do it. To make matters worse, turkey hunting was still in its infancy in the northeast, where I hail from. There were no veterans around to show me the ropes. I learned by trial and error ... lots of error. It was a long, slow and often frustrating process.
Today, turkey numbers are booming, right along with the number of hunters pursuing them. That means for the do-it-yourselfers, there are more birds to make mistakes with. Even better, however, there’s a plethora of good information on how to take up the sport of turkey hunting, putting you on the fast track to success.
In terms of general how-to knowledge, your best option is to read magazines and books. Magazines provide small snapshots of information. If you want the whole picture, books are a better option.
Books can give you more comprehensive and in-depth information on the “how-tos” of turkey hunting. Several recent examples include Ray Eye’s Practical Turkey Hunting Strategies, my own New England Turkey Hunting: Strategies for Success (shameless plug), and Jim Casada’s Innovative Turkey Hunting. Eye’s book is aimed squarely at the beginner. Mine fits somewhere in the middle, and while it’s directed toward one region in the country, the tips are useful anywhere turkeys exist. While directed more toward the experienced hunter, Casada’s book has plenty for the beginner, as well.
In this high-tech age of short attention spans, there’s even some great electronic media to help smooth out your learning curve. In their Mastering the Art series, Primos has videos on friction calling and mouth calling, and a new DVD Guide To Spring Turkey Hunting.
Quaker Boy has two vhs/dvds: Beginner’s Mouth Callin’ and Beginner’s Friction Calling and an audio CD, Talkin’ to Spring Gobblers. H.S. Strut has an instructional DVD, Mouth Calling 101; and M.A.D. Calls has a CD called Masters of the Sound. One track is instructions from several national calling champions, and the other is the real masters, the turkeys themselves. Last but not least are two CDs from NWTF, Spittin’ Feathers I and II. Each feature live recordings of real wild turkeys.
With all that information, you can amass enough knowledge to hit the woods with confidence this spring. Still, there’s no substitute for experience. And nothing teaches better than trial and error.