Some of the best advice I could possibly give you for hunting wild turkey is simply to set your alarm clock for nice and early. Turkeys can be found at any hour of the day, yes, but as far as hunting goes, dawn is the best time. Everything is quieter and fresher and your senses are more alert. Turkey hunting can be done at any time of day but the biggest birds are usually taken right around sunrise. Broaden your chances by getting up a little earlier.
The next most important thing to remember is that turkey hunting takes time. You may think that just because you got up early the universe owes you a turkey, and while I hope that works for you, it may not. If it doesn’t, keep trying. Now that you’ve gotten a jump on the day, use that advantage and stick around a little more. You’re in practice, on the field, warmed up, and though it can be frustrating to come so close so many times and still have nothing to show for it yet, the longer you stay out there, the more your odds improve. Resist the temptation to call it a day and go back–the most successful wild turkey hunters are the ones who put in the hours.
The first thing to do is to locate a roost. Once you have found a good one, don’t attempt to get too close. Wild turkeys scare easily and, as a general rule of thumb, coming anywhere closer than 100 yards away from the roost is to risk scaring them off. Most hunters settle between 100 to 150 yards away. The point is to leave as few obstacles between you and your game as possible to make it easy for him to come to you.
If the roost is on a hillside, it is easier to entice a wild turkey uphill than it is to get him to go downhill to you. Position yourself either on the same level as the turkey or slightly uphill before making your call. It is also a lot easier to sight and aim your weapon downhill than uphill, and is generally considered a tactical advantage to have the higher ground.
It is not necessary to completely immerse yourself in thick brush when stalking a turkey. Settling in thick brush while calling turkeys could pose a serious safety hazard as hunters are more likely to mistake you for a bird if they can’t see you properly. It is enough to simply wear camouflage clothing, hide in an open wooded spot, and stay completely still. You may want to perform your calls behind a large rock, tree trunk, or stump for further stealth and safety. Make sure this obstacle is both higher than your head and broader than the width of your shoulders.
If you see another hunter or think there may be one nearby, don’t move, and definitely don’t try to make any turkey sounds to alert him to your presence. The human voice is the best deterrent in this case and simply either calling his name, if you know him, or offering a clearly enunciated “howdy” is the best way to make him aware of your presence.
If you think a turkey may be moving toward you, patience is the most important thing. Give him time to approach you, check out his surroundings, and tell himself that he’s completely safe. Whatever you do, don’t stand up or make any unnecessary movements such as stretching or scratching. Remain crouched and wait until the turkey comes close enough to be in clear view. When you are sure that you can’t take sitting still for another second, wait another 20 minutes before you move. Waiting is your best weapon and has brought down more wild turkeys than any other quality.
And never move toward turkey sounds. Not only is this practice unethical but it is also unsafe and could result in you stalking and possibly injuring another hunter. On top of that, the turkey is a very careful bird and sneaking up on one is quite next to impossible. Stay put, repeat your call discreetly, and always let the turkey come to you.