Everything You Need to Know About Trail Cameras
Cameras | May 13, 2023
March 10, 2023
Wild turkey hunting is an exciting activity that requires patience and strategy. To ensure you are fully prepared, find out SAIL Buyer and hunting specialist Martin Léonard’s recommendations on what turkey hunting gear to take with you.
Have a look at our Spring Hunting Guide to discover other tips and videos on wild turkey hunting.
In this article, you will learn more about:
Wild turkey hunting gear Wild turkey decoys Turkey calls Hunting clothing
In Quebec and Ontario, wild turkey hunting is mostly done in the spring.
In Quebec, spring hunting season starts on April 28th and ends on May 22nd, 2023 in most hunting zones and can be done with a shotgun, muzzle-loading or breech-loading firearm, crossbow or bow. Turkey hunting can begin 30 minutes before sunrise, but must end by noon.
In Ontario, spring hunting season starts on April 25th and ends on May 31st, 2023 and can be done with a shotgun or bow. During the spring season, wild turkey hunting is restricted to 30 minutes before sunrise to 7pm.
In Quebec: during the spring season, a hunter may bring home up to two male bearded turkeys (one of which must be caught in one of the following zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10). Both turkeys can be caught on the same day.
In Ontario: during the spring season, a hunter may bring home one male bearded turkey per tag, for a maximum of two tags. However, both turkeys cannot be caught on the same day.
Scouting is one of the most important steps when hunting for wild turkey.
It is recommended to head to the site of your planned spring hunt around mid-April, after the snow has melted, so you can search for signs that there are turkeys around. Look out for tracks in the snow or mud, or for fallen feathers on the ground.
The day before your hunt, at nightfall, head to your spot so you can scout for bearded males. These are also referred to as Tom (the contour of their tail fans will be uniform in length) or Jake (which feature longer central tail feathers). Check out trees where they might head to roost at night (big larches or pines, and trees with a good view over the surrounding area).
You won’t need a GPS device for wild turkey hunting, as most hunting zones are usually covered by cell phone networks.
In the morning, plan to arrive around 3:30 or 4:00 so you can get dressed and prepare, get used to the darkness, reach your chosen spot slowly and quietly, and install your decoys and your blind (if you are using one). Then, position yourself 200 to 300 yards (183 to 247 metres) away from the tree roost without being seen.
Do not use a headlamp under any circumstances as you could startle the turkeys and scare them away.
Wild turkey, male or female, bearded or not, can also be hunted:
However, turkey hunting in the fall is often less popular, as it is not as hands-on or strategic. Turkeys can be found in groups during the fall season and their focus is not on mating (as opposed to springtime), but on feeding. This means that males will not be on the lookout for female mating calls.
Once you’re in position, you’ll need a few accessories in addition to a crossbow or a shotgun and ammunition. Make sure you skim through this turkey hunting gear list so you don’t forget anything on your next outings.
Decoys are fake turkeys made of plastic used to lure animals closer so you can shoot them.
When it comes to wild turkey hunting, follow these basic rules to choose the right decoys:
Set up your decoys on the morning of your hunt, on the edge of a field within a radius of 30 yards (27 metres) of your shooting position, between yourself and the wild turkey roosting tree. Position them so that when the moment comes, all you have to do is shoot.
It is best to set up before light. Turkeys have excellent vision – they can see up to a distance of 1km (3 280 feet) – but a very poor visual memory, so they will not remember whether or not they have previously seen your decoys or your blind.
Using a blind isn’t necessary in order to take home some turkeys; you can simply sit with your back against a tree.
However, considering that turkeys have highly developed visual acuity, a blind allows you to move around a bit more without being spotted.
What’s more, a blind is just as effective during spring hunting as it is for fall hunting, and can be very useful in case of rain or when bringing along new hunters who may struggle a bit more to remain perfectly still.
Look for a compact blind which is light enough to carry, easy to set up and made with a camouflage material such as the Mossy Oak Obsession (enhanced background of mottled tree bark, layered with pine and oak foliage and lifelike green colour tones to match the woods during the springtime) or Realtree Edge (abstract background with interlocking tree branches featuring realistic leaves of various colours, ranging from grey to brown and orange, which will blur out the contours of your silhouette).
Game calls are essential when it comes to wild turkey hunting.
Turkeys are diurnal animals. Once the sun has risen, you can start making calls (or yelping) to signal that a female is nearby. Male turkeys, when seeing the decoy and hearing the mating call, will move towards your shooting zone to parade and attract females.
As turkeys have remarkable auditory memory, it’s important to take five to six different game calls with you in your hunting vest. If hearing a particular sound creates any sort of doubt, turkeys will remember it forever and that one game call will not work anymore to call them over or hunt them.
There are three types of game calls:
Always carry light, portable binoculars. They will help you spot turkeys during the scouting stage without spooking them by getting too close.
Binoculars are essential for any type of hunting, no matter the species you’ve settled on.
A rangefinder is a tool used to calculate range and help you shoot more accurately. You should ideally shoot when a turkey is close to your decoy, so about 25 to 30 yards (23 to 27 metres) away from you, but you can shoot from of up to 50 yards (46 metres). Don’t forget this essential piece of equipment when wild turkey hunting.
Seeing as you’ll need to remain as still as possible, use a light adjustable bipod gun rest to set your firearm and hold your shooting position without getting tired. This piece of equipment will help you take aim in a more stable way.
You might want to give your back and joints a little break, so bring along a low folding seat, about seven inches in height (17,8 cm) so you can comfortably sit close to the ground without losing sight of your decoys.
Of course, you’ll need to wear camouflage hunting clothes so you can blend in with the decor: hat or cap, jacket, pants, boots.
As turkeys have a poor sense of smell, there is no need to cover your clothes with odour eliminator.
Also, an orange safety vest isn’t required for this type of hunt.
Covering your face with a scarf or neck gaiter worn over your nose (leaving only your eyes uncovered) will make it easier to blend in with the scenery.
Go for a fabric that’s light and wicks away humidity, with a Realtree or Obsession pattern.
Hunting gloves allow you to both camouflage your hands and protect them from the cold, improving your dexterity.
Choose gloves that are non-slip, have touch screen friendly fingertips, and feature a Realtree or Obsession pattern, or the camouflage pattern specially developed by SAIL.
Want to treat yourself? An all-in-one hunting vest specifically designed for turkey hunting is just the thing. In addition to doubling up as a backpack, these vests feature an integrated seat cushion which you can take out, making it more comfortable for your back (and backside) when leaning against a tree.
The vest also provides you with extra camouflage, features a number of useful pockets to stash your gear in, and a strap to hook up and carry a seat; you won’t even need a backpack.