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The Top 10 things for a successful turkey hunt

The booming sound of a gobbler, or “spring thunder” as some like to call it, can and has caused even the most seasoned hunters to do some of the craziest and most inexplicable things I have ever seen in the hunting woods. From letting out a loud scream when a turkey finally gobbles, to sprinting through the woods with a loaded gun only to end up falling on the ground and spooking the bird, I’ve seen urgency quickly turn into stupidity in some of the smartest turkey hunters I know.

So as I’ve traveled and hunted turkeys in a lot of places with a lot of different kinds of people, I’ve become accustomed to running through an inner monologue as hunts progress in order to keep me focused and grounded. These ten things have proven to help me to experience success more often than not.

Make sure your gun is loaded-Seems like common sense, right? I’ve had it happen when guiding. A bird comes in picture perfect and they inform me that there’s not a round in the chamber. Nothing hurts more than this, except for maybe a miss.

Before you call again, have a place to retreat to — I have personally made this mistake a few times, and I’ll do my best to never do it again. If you call and a turkey happens to be close having a place that was preplanned to duck into is a lot better than being stuck where you are without a plan.

Kneel and check- I’ve seen it time and time again– you’re in what looks like a good spot in the woods, only once you sit, there’s obstacles everywhere at gun barrel and eye level. Quickly kneeling can help you scope out any potential interference in your shooting area before you sit.

Positioning- set yourself up to the left or right depending on your dominant shooting hand. If you think the bird is coming toward a certain spot, if you’re a right-handed shooter set up a little further to the right. Vice versa for lefties.

Aim for high or clear- Not your shooting aim, but rather the aim of your trajectory. When moving to a bird on mountains and ridges, I always consider it a plus if I can get to an elevation that I believe to be above the bird I’m targeting. It also never hurts to find a nice clearing where birds can get some direct sunlight and steam that morning dew off their feathers when they’re strutting.

Cover- I always like to check and see what kind of cover I have in case I need to move in order to make a shot. If time allows it, I often stick a few small, leafy branches in front of me and make sure the tree behind me is at least as broad, if not broader than my shoulders.

Let the woods settle- right after I’ve found the spot I wish to set up, and I’ve made all my necessary movements, I always take a moment to let things calm down. Remember, the woods are wild, and we aren’t a natural sight or smell to most wildlife. We’ve disrupted things while being there, so it’s best to let things settle for a few moments before calling again.

Bonus- Breathe. Once I’m settled in, I always remind myself to breathe, stay calm, and stay focused. Getting excited and having the heart pumping is part of the hunt. I just don’t let excitement turn into something debilitating.

Hunt hard, hunt safe and shoot straight friends.

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