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    • March 30, 2013 7:30 AM EDT
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      Five good turkey hunting tips


      <span> By <a>Ed Zieralski</a> March 29, 2013</span></span>

      JULIAN — For all you challenged turkey hunters out there – you know who you are -- I’m offering myself up as an example of a turkey hunter who made all of the usual mistakes as a beginning turkey slayer.

      I did it all. I shot a gun without ever patterning it (and of course missed the first bird I ever fired at, sorry Charlie Ryan). I moved when turkeys were approaching. I set up looking one way when a bird came in behind me because I didn’t check out the terrain around me. I’ve left a great spot after calling for hours, only to walk into an oncoming bird moving in silent.

      To me, successful turkey hunting can be broken down into five important talents.

      Know your gun. Know the terrain you’re hunting. Hunt where you’ve found sign of turkey. Learn to work all the calls, particularly a mouth call. And finally, and maybe the most important, be patient and sit as still as a rock.

      Let’s start with the gun. I replaced the improved cylinder choke on my old 12-gauge Remington 11-87 with a full turkey choke and am putting more shot in the kill zone, the neck. I also added a TruGlo Gobble-Dot fiber optic sight for better visibility in low light. Experiment with barrel chokes and different ammunition to get the best pattern. Practice at 25-, 30-, 35- and 40 yards to see how your gun patterns. Check the number of holes from the BBs in the kill zone. I like No. 5 shot, but have used No. 4s and No. 6s.

      Checking terrain is a matter of figuring out which route the bird will take on final approach. Look for well-worn grass trails they might travel with deer. Check for turkey scat in the grass, tracks or wing marks from them dancing in the dirt. The spring hunt is about the show, the Big Dance. It’s not about stalking these birds and gunning them down, or worse, popping out of a vehicle or off an ATV and shooting them. If they don’t answer your calls, they win.

      It’s a simplification, but hunt where there are turkeys. If you have access to private property where the birds are known to roost on or around, consider yourself the luckiest hunter in the world. Otherwise, there’s no shortcut to finding birds on public land. I do more of this in Pennsylvania than California. I know you have to hike to get away from other hunters. Try using locator calls like a crow call, owl call or even a shock gobble. Turkeys hate crows and owls and will gobble back at them. Avoid the shock gobble in areas where there might be other hunters. Last thing you need is another hunter hearing a gobble and closing ground on you thinking you’re a big ol’ gobbler.

      Learning to use a call properly is an art. Wooden box calls or pot calls (glass or slate) are the easiest to master. H.S. Hunter’s Specialties has a great Combo Raspy Old Hen that features box, pot and mouth call. Steve Howe of Pure Strut Custom Calls makes a fine slate over glass call.

      To be a true turkey hunter, a member of the Tenth Legion author Tom Kelly writes about, you must master the mouth call. Primos has a great CD that will take you through techniques and sounds to learn it. I put that in my CD player every spring to tune up my calling. When a big gobbler is closing in on you, the only thing you want in your hands is your shotgun.

      Have fun, be safe and ethical and turn a junior hunter on to this great tradition.
      This post was edited by Chris Avena at March 30, 2013 7:34 AM EDT

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