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Dan Brelje

Turkey Hunting for a Dummy

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Dan Brelje

First Time hunter going out for turkey season in the black hills this spring. I've got a few buddies that are going to teach me a few things about hunting in general and the saftey of using a gun. What are some "must know/learn" basics before i step out into the field? Saftey first as always, but i know there has got to be more. Any ifo will be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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LABS4ME

Dan, check with SoDak before going out there. You may need a Hunter's Saftey Certificate # to purchase your license. It is required by many States now to purchase a Big Game license and turkeys are classified as big game in SoDak.

You may not need it, but you may. It sounds as though you are just taking up hunting and I commend you for that. If you haven't taken any of the saftey courses, look into the Adult Hunter Saftey course. I made my son take it at 17, because of a stupid thing he did. I told him he was done hunting unless he took the course and passed it. I really feel he got a lot out of it. Much more than the class he took at 13.

With that said, make sure you pattern your gun well before heading out. Every gun/choke/ shot size and material will shoot differently. It is imperative that you do this for turkey hunting.

Learn some basic calling. You do not need to be a world class caller to beat a gobbler... I'm proof of that. Learn some simple calls like a cluck, purr and yelp. Try simple to use calls like a slate or a box call. I bought a handmade hatchet call from a gentleman in Upsala, MN that I truley believe anyone could use. I killed my WI bird with that call the 1st morning of my hunt on the last season. Called 2 gobblers into 30 yards. Called in a gobbler the next morning for my buddy with that call and a slat combo.

Get some camo and a turkey vest. Organize your items in the vest and learn where they are at to minimize movement when out hunting. Make sure your gun is camo'd. You can buy a sock or tape if it's not.

You'll get lots of responses form our turky staff here JNelson and Borch ... They are darn good at what they do...

Good Luck!

Ken

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Wallydog

Dan, I'm glad to read your interest in the "rules of engagement". I'd encourage you to consider joining the National Wild Turkey Federation and attending a banquet in your area. Also plan to attend any seminars in your area to garner different perspectives on what to do, and what NOT to do. Knowledge is power. You may have hunted your entire life but I assure you turkey hunting is different. The issues surrounding safety are paramount, it's just different.

And remember "it's not the gobbler....it's the gobble".

Best of luck and be careful the turkey hunting hook has an enormous barb.

WD

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DonBo

What they said! And YES, you do need hunter safety in SD.

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Dan Brelje

About hunter saftey. From what i have read on the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks, i could not find anything that says you need hunters saftey after the age of 16. I looked for a few hours and found nothing. If someone can find otherwise please let me know.

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DonBo

I am pretty sure that if you can show proof of having a hunting license in another state, then you do not have to have your gun safety.

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Borch

Dan,

You do not need to show proof of completing a hunter safety course when you're over 16 while hunting turkey's in SD if using a firearms. There are different requirements if you are bowhunting though. I've hunted the Black Hills for spring turkey for many years now and never have needed proof of the certification. If you decide to hunt Nebraska you'll need it though. Although it's a good idea to get the certification whether you're required to get it or not. Some tips in addition to what others have said.

Aggressive calling usually rules in the hills. Definitely pick up a good boxcall and learn to play it loud and soft.

Physical deamands will require that you can climb steep hills at a good pace. These birds move a lot more than the easterns most folks are accustom to around here. Plus they love to take the high road and if you want to get them you'll need to cirle a head and get on their level.

Run and guns rules in the hills. Do not get hung up on sign as these birds cover up to 14 miles a day. Calls and move, call and move. Strike up a birds and get set up quick. The Merriams are very vocal and gobble all day.

Have a great hunt. The hills are a beautiful place to chase turkey. It's my favorite hunt!

Feels free to keep asking questions.

Good Luck!

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Scott M

Dan,

Great to hear you'll be heading to the Black Hills. I plan to do that some day....want to get my first Merriams out there.

I would buy some of those starting caller packs with slates, boxes, and/or mouth calls with videos on how to use the calls. Those were great tools for me. I also did a ton of reading (I think I bought and read like 2-3 books) and start using a diaphragm call now! Stick it in your car and on the way to work go to town. Nobody can see what you're doing anyways!

Read as much as you can but try to judge whether it is pertinent to your hunt or not. The best thing you can do through your development as a turkey hunter, or any game hunter, is to learn from mistakes, particularly others' mistakes so you don't do the same ones (I think a Western philosopher once said those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it).

As we approach the season there will be lots of tips and banter on these boards as I'm sure you know, so nailing down a spot and a tag, buying your gear, and practicing your calls would be a good start.

If you do find out or decide you need firearms safety, send me an email (addy is in my profile) and I'd be happy to help you take the proper tests.

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HateHumminbird

Dan:

Welcome to the turkey forum! I fished with Deitz and Ray during a FBL event on Chisago this past summer and met you there.

The biggest piece of advice I could give when starting out is to get out there and practice. Practice everything. The calling, the setup, the scouting, everything. The more I hunt turkeys and experience things I've never experienced, the more emphasis I personally place on hunting experience. It's one thing to have someone tell you that turkeys have sharp eyesight. It's entirely another to hunt 3 long days straight without seeing a gobbler, only to have him catch you repositioning your gun on your knee from 80 yards on the 4th day.

At the same time, as Wallydog said, knowledge IS power! I would strongly suggest along with seminars, attending a DNR Wild Turkey Clinic here in MN before you head out there. I'll be putting one on south of you in March, but there will be many of them much closer to you. Read what you can, and learn what you can from seminars, clinics, and other such opportunities; but, do your best to get out before the season on some land (public and un-huntable is best, so as not to ruin other people's hunts) and mock-hunt turkeys. It sounds stupid, and it sounds like not much fun, but it's really a blast.

Practice calling at the real thing, but moreover, practice listening to the real thing.

Basically, you'll be getting your first hunt and some possible mistakes that go along with it, out of the way before you get to the hills. And about mistakes, we all make plenty of them. I sure do. It's part of the process, and really part of the fun. Confidence is a true key to turkey hunting success; it only takes one. One bird at the right time, right place, with the right call and set of circumstance. Many times, it takes even less.

Good luck, and make sure to learn what you can now, to be knowledgeable when asking questions to friends and other experienced turkey hunters!

Joel

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123fish

I'll second the we all make mistakes advice given by jnelson. That's all part of the learning curve though.

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Borch

You're getting some good info Dan. Another tip about hunting out there is to giver the National Forest rangers a call for that Black Hills district. They are out in the field and can point you to areas that are holding birds which will help eliminate some of the areas that don't. They can be very helpful.

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PierBridge

As always Fantastic Information guys Thanks Much!

I wasn't getting to excited being its a long way off and I applied for season A in my zone meaning I probably won't get my tag for that period being it's my first attempt.

But this mock hunting idea really interest me and makes a lot of sense.

Is anyone doing any scouting or preperation in the Winter months or mainly early spring?

Thanks again, Pier!

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Dan Brelje

Thanks for all the Info guys. Borch, very good idea on contacting the Forest Service, i never thought about that. It looks like i am going to take the Hunters Test from Da Chise before i go out and do the hunt. Keep the info coming, not just for me but others as well. Knowledge is power. Thanks

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Jackpine Rob

Maps. They are the starting point of all of my out-of-state scouting. When you contact the Forest Service inquire specifically about forest maps. Often you can get maps showing public/private lands.

In addition, some good USGS topo maps can then be used. Typically I will transfer information from one map to the other, so I have a "master" map. Highlighters, pens and you're good to go.

Many counties in SoDak also have something called "911 Maps" which show houses with the names of the occupants. Couple that 911 map with a phone book, and you can actually call ahead the introduce yourself if you want to get on private lands. Many times I will pencil in the name and phone number of landowners on the margins of my master map.

I've got the better part of 8 counties in South Dakota mapped out for various purposes - turkeys, deer, antelope, varmints, snow goose.... Its a real leg up when a guy finally gets out there, and when a landowner sees your map when you ask him to show you his land boundaries, I have found they warm up pretty quickly. As one rancher told me, he really appreciated that someone had taken the time to do the research, and cared enough about the boundaries of private property to ask and confirm. That guy actually called a couple of his neighbors and got me on their land as well.

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HateHumminbird

Pier:

Quote:

Is anyone doing any scouting or preperation in the Winter months or mainly early spring?


I ratchet up scouting efforts as the winter progresses, but it never hurts to locate several wintering flocks of turkeys as early in the winter season as you can. They'll segregate into same-sex flocks well before the snow flies, but now is a great time to see them picking their way through corn stubble and beans. Take note of what flocks are using the fields and when to try and determine roost locations. Even though these flocks will greatly disperse in spring, many of the same roost locations used in winter will continue to be used throughout the spring turkey season.

This is almost entirely windshield scouting, except for some choice openings revealed by aerial photography, and not visible from roadways. My goal for this time of the year is to locate at least two wintering flocks of birds (hens, jakes, toms, doesn't matter) at least a few miles apart, per hunter if available.

You can also then key in on surrounding areas that are likely to have birds once they disperse. Look to natural travel corridors like river bottoms, ridges, funnels or fields. Take into account the travel patterns you've observed over the winter, as well as previously during all times of the year.

Secure permission for the core areas, as well as the likely surrounding habitat (as contiguous chunks if at all possible!!!). You can never start too early. Hold off however if you have serious concerns whether or not you'll draw a tag.

There's always something to do regarding turkey hunting, as I've never been too prepared when hitting the turkey woods each spring.

Joel

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HateHumminbird

Also, I forgot to mention, the main reason I don't do more earlier, is because once the turkey bug bites you, waiting months and months is nearly unbearable. Wait until at least Feb. before pulling out all the calls and camo, and "playing turkey." smile.gif

Joel

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