How Do I Prepare New Hunters?

  • I first start with conversations online and by phone to determine the hunter’s experience level and to find out what they want out of a hunt.
  • I then provide the hunter with an idea of how we will be hunting and what they are required to bring.
  • If time allows, I like to meet with the new hunter the day before our hunt to pattern their shotgun. We set up a Turkey target @ 20 yards and they shoot to see how many pellets are in the area required to kill a Turkey.
  • I use bipods or tripods to help hold the gun steady and to improve accuracy. This is done during the patterning and the actual hunt.
  • A review of safety procedures is also done at this time. If they cannot come the day before, safety procedures are reviewed the day of the hunt.
  • As we get closer to the scheduled hunt, I will provide them with updates on the number of turkeys in our hunting area and information about hunts I have been on.

What Do I Provide New Hunters?

  • Over 17 years of experience with knowledge gained from other hunters, actual field experience and also knowledge from making mistakes.
  • Hunting blinds are set up in areas near where turkeys are roosting and where I have permission to hunt. These are set up well before the start of the Turkey season.
  • There are chairs in the blinds with cushions, bipods, or tripods for shooting. I also have range finders and binoculars.
  • I started using the TideWe blinds with 270 degree see through walls in 2023. New hunters are amazed by being able to watch turkeys and other wildlife through the walls. I currently have 2 of these blinds.
  • I show them how to use the different types of calls. The box call, slate calls and mouth calls. This is usually done the morning of the hunt while waiting for legal hunting time. Actual use of calls is done during the hunt.
  • The opportunity to see turkeys up close and to see and hear how they react to calling.

The day of the hunt we meet about 30 minutes before legal shooting time, early in the season around 5:00 am. ( in late May 4:35 am). After confirming the hunter has a valid turkey tag and proper licenses we proceed.

Setting Up Turkey Decoys for a Successful Hunt

We walk to the blind and while I am putting out the decoys, the hunter sits down and watches. I typically use a lay down hen with a standing Jake decoy close behind. These are set up 15 yards away and off centre ( for right handed shooters to the left and for lefties, to the right.) I may also add a feeding hen decoy a few yards away.

I stress to the hunters that now it's critical to be as quiet as possible to avoid spooking any turkeys or other wildlife. I position the hunter's chair to allow them to get a direct sight of the hen and Jake's decoys. We will adjust and position the bipod or tripod to the proper height for the hunter. While waiting for legal shooting time, we will typically have a coffee and discuss tactics for calling. Shotguns remain in their cases or gunstocks until legal shooting time.

Well before legal light, we will start to hear Tom's & Jake's gobbling on the roost. This is when the new hunters start to get excited. I explain how close I think the birds are and how many. Once it is the legal time to hunt, I have the hunter take their shotgun out of the case and safely and quietly load it. I make sure the safety is on and place the gun on the tripod/bipod. I have them sight down the barrel and confirm they are in a good position.

Calling Turkeys: Tactics for Beginners

I then take out my pot call and rough the surface with coarse sandpaper. I show them how I will be using the striker to make various calls. Once I hear a gobble, I make a few soft calls. If I hear a gobble in response, I then stop calling. I explain to the hunter that calling too much can spook the birds.

As we hear or see the Toms or Jakes getting closer, I will switch to a mouth call as it is easier to control, and no movement is required.

A Blow-by-Blow Account of a Turkey Hunt

Now, to an actual hunt!

On May 10, 2023, I took Darrel and his friend for their first Wild Turkey hunt. While they both had experience hunting and using firearms, they had never hunted Wild Turkeys. We met at my place at 5:00 am. I loaded their gear and them in my truck and we drove close to the field we would be hunting. Fortunately, the field was dry and had not been planted. We got out, loaded our gear and walked 200 yards to my TideWe blind that I had set up under a maple tree at the edge of a field. I got them settled into their chairs and put out the decoys. ( a Jake close behind a breeding Hen).

To give the guys more room, I sat a little beside and behind the blind. Just a little before legal light we started to hear birds gobbling on the roost. We could hear a number of birds in the wooded area behind us and a few others further away. I got the guys to take their guns out of the cases and to load up. I had them put their guns on the bipods, and they adjusted them to aim near the decoys.

I made a few light calls with my pot call and these were answered right away by birds behind us and to the left. Darrel and his friend were starting to get really excited!

While waiting for the turkeys to come out of the woods we had a couple of deer walk out into the field about 130 yards from us. The see through walls allowed us to watch the deer come to within 40 yards before walking into the woods.

First-Time Turkey Hunters Score a Double

At 7:30, we had a flock of 6 Jake's mentors on the field to our left. At this point, they were 200 yards from us. I gave a few soft calls with my pot call, and they gobbled. They started walking towards us, and at 100 yards, they changed direction and ended up in front of us near the edge of the field. Over the next 30 minutes, we watched 2 of Jake's strutting and gobbling when I called. The other 4 Jakes were running around the strutting Jakes. Every once in a while, the 4 Jakes would jump up in the air!

Finally, they started walking slowly toward my decoys. I told the guys to get in position but to leave their safeties on until the birds were at the decoys. When they were 50 yards away, one of the Jakes in the back started running towards the decoys. I told the guys to get ready and to take their safeties off. Within a minute they were in the decoys, 15 yards away. I waited for the birds to separate a bit and told them to shoot. Nothing! I told them again to shoot as the birds were getting spooked. I heard what I thought was one shot, and two birds were down! ( they had both shot at exactly the same time!).

two beginners hunted down double turkeys

I had them put their safeties back on and asked them to get out of the blind. I reminded them that sometimes turkeys will look like they are dead and will then jump up and run away. They walked up to the birds and put a foot on their necks until they stopped moving. They both grabbed their birds and set up in front of my TideWe blind for a photo. Big smiles from two very happy hunters.

I should mention that while the birds were coming closer, I was pretty much in the open and only moved to adjust the camera for the video I was recording.

Both of them said it was great hunting from the TideWe blind with see-through walls. They were extremely happy to have doubled up on their first Turkey hunt!

Field Dressing and Processing Wild Turkey

We packed up our gear and went back to my place to butcher the birds. They helped me pluck the breasts a bit, and then, with the first turkey, I showed them how to remove the breasts and the legs. I did half of one turkey, and they did the rest themselves!

Processing turkey

It's pretty much a dream hunt for these new hunters! Seeing how excited they get while watching the deer and turkeys and then the buildup before shooting their first turkeys is one of the main reasons I take out new hunters!


John Matthews

My name is John Matthews and I have always loved being outdoors. I started hunting ducks over 56 years ago and I now hunt waterfowl, deer, turkeys, moose and small game.I have been hunting Wild Turkeys in Southwestern Ontario for the past 17 years. When I first started turkey hunting, hunters were required to attend a turkey hunting course. Now this is not required.In Ontario, you can assist other hunters by calling, etc even after you have filled your tags.I retired in 2012 and since then I have helped over 20 hunters shoot their first Turkey. Being retired allows me the time to show new hunters how to be successful and safe hunters.


Related blogs

March 29, 2024 — John Matthews

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.