Turkey Hunting Fails To Avoid

Upstate Outdoors
March 22, 2019 - 4:10 pm

Phillip Gentry

Hunting season for Easter Wild Turkey opened last Wednesday, but this week-end represents the first turkey hunting outing of the year for many Upstate hunters. With dwindling numbers of birds being reported by state wildlife biologists and hunter participation remaining at high levels, the prospect of killing a mature gobbler is a tough one from the get-go when everything goes right.

Many turkey hunters further hinder themselves by participating in a number of turkey hunting fails that could have been avoided with a little more advanced planning or attention to detail.

Read the items below to discover if one of these fails applies to you.

1.You didn’t scout before the season started. The excuses are many and the rainy weather that has plagued the Upstate all year is as good excuse as any. Even if you’ll be hunting land that you’ve hunted for years, a turkey hunter who goes in blind on opening day has much reduced chances of killing a bird than the hunter who is prepared.

2. Using only one call. Imagine going fishing with only one lure in the boat. You may have selected a great lure, but is it going to catch fish every time out? Whether your personal preference is a slate call, a box call, a diaphragm call or something else, learning to make multiple sounds with multiple calls is not only more lifelike, it’ll helps you kill more birds by sounding more authentic.

3. Guns, Chokes, and Loads Don’t Match. If you’re shooting the same gun, with the same choke and the same load, you might get a pass on this one, assuming that you’ve shot the gun enough to know how it handles. If you have a new gun, new choke or changed to a different load and you didn’t spend some time shooting the gun at various ranges from your target to see how it patterns, you could be setting up for failure.

4. No patience in the woods. Many Big Game hunters have no problem sitting in a deer stand for hours at a time waiting on a big deer to show up yet won’t give a turkey more than 30 minutes to come to the sound of your call. Slow down and give good spots, those areas you have previously scouted, a chance to produce.

5. Hunting Unprepared. Being unprepared runs the gamut from not having your binoculars to being underdressed to forgetting to pack a bottle of water. Turkey vests come with a multitude of pockets for a reason. To hunt long and comfortably requires a little more gear than just a gun and boots. A well-stocked turkey vest will allow you to carry all the necessities for the hunt, all the necessities for your personal comfort, and distribute the weight of your gear so you don’t feel like you’re a pack mule working the rim of the Grand Canyon.

6 Calling Too Much. Look at it this way, for 11 months turkeys have grown accustomed to natural sounds in the woods. They know what their neighbors sound like and that old gobbler certainly knows what all of his hens sound like. Suddenly at day break on Opening Day and every day for the next month, some loud, obnoxious hen shows up demanding attention. You’re busted before you ever get started. Two good adages to live by in the turkey woods is listen 95% of the time and speak 5% and then speak only when spoken to.

7. Didn’t Order Tags In Time. SCDNR did away with over the counter paper tags from retails outlets several years ago. Tags must either be ordered online at SCDNR website or you’ll have to drive over to the DNR office in Clemson to get them.


Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. The show can be streamed live online at 1063word.radio.com or via podcast anytime. This week’s guest will be Ott DeFoe, winner of the 2019 Bassmaster Classic.


Photo Caption – Avoiding turkey hunting fails will help you fill those turkey tags this season. Photo by Phillip Gentry.

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