If you hunt turkeys, you’ll make mistakes, so you might as well get used to the idea. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them or, better yet, learn from someone else’s before they cost you a gobbler.
Will Primos, founder of Primos Hunting Calls, admits to making hundreds of mistakes. Here are his most common ones—and their solutions.
1. Forcing It
“Sometimes turkeys aren’t gobbling or wanting to come to you,” Primos says. “Maybe it’s the humidity or something’s not right with the weather. Or you hear gobblers one morning and the next you don’t hear anything. They’re there, but something’s not right.”
The mistake is to force an encounter.
“Some get on four-wheelers, run around blowing crow calls and raising a ruckus,” he says. “Use your feet and stay quiet.”
“A turkey makes a living using his eyes and ears to keep predators from jumping on him,” Primos says. “Train yourself to move extremely slowly. If a mosquito lands on your nose, slowly move your hand against your body to where you can run him off. Turkeys pick up every little movement; every bird that flutters, everything the wind blows in an odd way. So moving at the wrong time – or moving at all – is a big giveaway.”
3. Setting Up Low
“A turkey does not like to come downhill toward something calling to him,” Primos says.
If a turkey walking downhill senses danger, he has to turn and run uphill to escape, making it difficult to launch into flight. But Primos says a turkey doesn’t mind coming uphill.
“If he sees danger, all he’s gotta do is turn around and push off those big drumsticks and spread his wings and he’s gone. It’s a defensive measure,” he says.
4. Not Patterning Your Shotgun
“Different guns like different shotshells, so you need to pattern them,” he says.
You can take up some slack with new shotshell designs, like Federal Premium® 3rd Degree®, which features 5, 6 and 7 shot to deliver lethal patterns at distances from 10 to 50-plus yards.
“3rd Degree covers a lot of bases because it’s designed with different-sized shot, so you’re covered for close-range shots as well as medium- and long-range ones. Your chances of hitting the head and neck with 3rd Degree from any gun is better.”
5. Not Aiming For The Neck
Speaking of patterning, people tend to aim at a turkey’s head, so half the shot string flies over him. By aiming at the neck, your pattern covers from the top of his head to the bottom of his neck, Primos says.
6. Getting Too Close
In his early days, Primos would run to get within 100 yards of any tom he heard gobble. “And you know, I killed very few of those turkeys,” he says.
Then an acquaintance told Primos he deliberately set up 300, 400 and even 500 yards from a gobbler because of the fact he hunted with his wife and small child.
“And he was filling his limit,” Primos says. “I tried it and it is amazing how you can work a far-away gobbler, unless he has hens with him.”
7. Not Knowing Where You Are
Know and use terrain. Primos advises to look for any way to make it easy for a turkey to come to you. Don’t set up with a ditch, fence, ravine or other obstacle between you and the bird.