Was there a shot you might have taken this year but you just weren’t sure if you could make it? Did you hesitate to swing on that bird that came in behind you to your right because you thought he might see you and you didn’t know if you could act quickly enough to shoot him? Were you afraid to move on that bird that was out of sight but sounded like he was somewhere out in front of you? Did you walk out of the turkey woods again, without a bird over your shoulder because you hesitated to shoot and the bird walked away?
If your answer was “yes” to one, two or maybe even more of those questions, join the crowd. Many hunters walk out of the woods, frustrated, every year due to one or more of those circumstances. We all know the feeling. We’ve been there. So, what’s the solution?
Some “old timers” will tell you that the solution is just more time and more experience. “Spend more time in the woods,” they’ll say. “Hunt a few more years and you’ll learn.” Suddenly, you’ll be a better hunter.
You’ll just know what to do and how to do it. Turkeys in your game bag will come with time and experience. Do you believe that? Has that been your experience in other areas of your life? Did doing something a lot more often guarantee you success? Or did you just do the same things wrong time after time? The old timers were right about one thing: If you do the same things wrong, time after time, you do get better at doing the same things wrong!
Here are five simple rules that will improve your hunt every time you go to the woods. Think about these things during the off-season. They will help you make yourself a better turkey hunter if you are willing to make or maybe change some aspects of your hunting style.
He’s not the only bird you’ll ever hear. He’s not the only bird you’ll ever see. If he sees you it won’t ruin his life. If he sees you, it won’t ruin your life. If you spook him, he’ll get over it. If you spook him, you’ll get over it.
Think of it this way. If you dropped one potato chip out of a bag full and it fell into a big pool of muddy water, you’d just say, “Okay, I have a lot more in this bag, I’ll just eat another one.” If you don’t shoot the first turkey you hear, if he sees you and runs away, if you spook him, you’ve just dropped one potato chip out of your bag into that pool of muddy water. Relax, you’ve got a bag full. They’ll make more.
Your life does not depend upon your killing this turkey for you to survive. You’re not Daniel Boone, coming through the Cumberland Gap with a party of women and children who depend on you to kill the game for the season. Your life is not dependant upon killing a turkey. You life is not dependant upon your killing this turkey. You have food at home, your family will survive. You hunt because you want to hunt. You hunt because you enjoy it. You don’t “win” every time at anything. You won’t “win” every time you hunt.
3. Take a Chance
You will lose more turkeys by inaction than by action. A turkey is not some magical bird that can sense what you are thinking. He really can’t hear your heartbeat or see your eyes blink either. There are lots of things that move in the woods, there are lots of noises in the woods, there are other animals in the woods, there’s nothing special about your being there. You’re as much a part of the grand scheme of things as that tree that you’re leaning against and as that turkey you’re hunting.
The “roar of the crowd” won’t make you a better hunter. The “roar of the crowd” only lasts for a little while anyway. The “roar of the crowd” will be for someone else eventually. Hunt for your personal satisfaction and the enjoyment that you get out of it, not for glory or congratulations from others — not even your family members or your closest friends. Hunting is a personal choice and so is the pleasure.
Enjoy the hunt for your personal pleasure, not for the glory of showing off your kill or for the “roar of the crowd.”
The self-confidence to be willing to “lose” a bird, if that means that you really went after him; the self-confidence to understand that there are times when you “win” and times when you “lose;” the self-confidence to know that you must take chances in life and that you can’t let the fear of failure be greater than the desire for success; the self-confidence to enjoy the hunt for yourself and not for the “roar of the crowd.”
You can make yourself a better hunter and you can be ready for the next season by putting these five simple rules into practice in your hunting lifestyle.
Nothing here is meant in any way to minimize any aspect of hunting safety or of ethical hunting practices. Those are a given. You must know how your gun shoots and how you can shoot it. Most of all, however, you must have the self-confidence to go for it and walk out of the turkey woods knowing that you gave all you had and made your very best effort.
For more than 20 years, Turkey & Turkey Hunting has been the leading source of practical and comprehensive information for turkey hunters. Each issue is packed with feature articles from the experts on turkey biology, behavior, hunting strategies, ethics, history, gear, and much more. Subscribe Now!