Seven tips for turkey hunting success

‘Gobblintom’ shares his thoughts on how to effectively hunt turkeys throughout the season

Joey Murphy developed a passion for hunting turkeys when he was 14, and the passion has morphed into an obsession for hunting longbeards. The furniture maker also builds his own turkey call named the “Spursuader,” a sweet-sounding, wood-friction pot call.

And of course he hunts every opportunity he gets.“I’m not a professional turkey hunter by any means,” said Murphy. “But I have studied the sport, and over the past 27 years I have learned a lot through simple trial, error and effort. In my years chasing turkeys, I’ve come up with seven major things that I would pass on to other hunters that I feel are keys to success in the turkey woods.”

Murphy said his No. 1 piece of advice is patience, which is a pre-requisite for success almost every time he hunts.

“Turkey hunting will test your woodsmanship, endurance and, above all, your patience,” he said. “You can be a world-champion caller with all the best equipment, but if you don’t have patience, you will lose this game.

“Countless times I’ve got up thinking that specific hunt was over only to spook a longbeard coming in silent those last few yards. I now remind myself when I want to move that patience has filled more tags for me than anything else.”

Murphy said the second key is to know and understand your calls.

“Knowing your calls and what you can do with them is crucial because all turkeys are different,” he said. “When one call doesn’t do the magic, another call might be golden. Carry several different calls, such as the box, mouth and friction calls, and know how to use each.

NorthCarolinaSportsman.com moderator Joey Murphy, aka “Gobblintom,” said hiding his silhouette with a broad-trunked tree is one key to success when hunting turkeys.

“Then you need to do these three things; practice, practice, and practice your calling some more.”

He doesn’t mean practicing just in your house while sitting in the living room, either.

“Practice from a hunting position so you will feel confident in your calls, and you will be able to make the necessary sweet talk without looking at the call,” Murphy said. “The more versatile your calling the more gobblers you’ll fool.”

Murphy said no turkey will die unless you have the right weapon and understand that weapon’s ability and limitations.

“Know your weapon and its effective range,” he said. “It’s sounds simple, but you’ve got to do your homework. Don’t just buy any turkey load because that’s what your buddies use. All guns shoot different, so know what yours will do with various loads.

“If you bow hunt, the same applies, except you may need to practice even more. It takes a perfectly placed arrow to bring down a longbeard.”

Murphy said another key that is often overlooked is getting to know the specific birds you hunt and their habits.

“It’s simple to get to know your birds: You simply scout, scout and scout some more,” he said. “It’s easier to be patient when you know that there are turkeys where you’re hunting. Get out a few weeks before the season, and listen and continue to scout throughout the season.

“If undisturbed, turkeys will frequent the same general area for days.”

Safety is always a primary concern Murphy said. Not only is it a key to getting to hunt another day, but it’s important to your success as well.

“Once you have found your desired location, find a stump or tree wider than your shoulders and preferably in the shadows,” he said. “Turkeys have keen eyesight and will pick up on anything out of place, such as the shine of a gun barrel, bare skin, even a freshly broken twig. This helps protect you from being accidentally mistaken for a turkey, as well as putting you into better position to have a gobbler walk in close.

“Always assume the turkey sounds you hear are other hunters until the turkey is visible. Also, never wear red, white or blue colors when hunting. Be safe for your safety and for others.”

Murphy said turkey hunting can be a frustrating sport, but to be consistently successful you have to overcome those feelings.

“I often say that to be successful you can’t just like turkey hunting — you have to love it, or it will get to you,” he said. “If things are not working the way you want them to, which is often for turkey hunters, just play the hand you’re dealt.

“Win or lose, the challenge to overcome the odds is worth it. Turkey hunting isn’t easy, but remember what doesn’t work today could be the game changer tomorrow. Stick with what you know and don’t give up.”

As part of his ‘don’t give up’ concept, Murphy said to hunt throughout the season. Sometimes some great hunting will occur late in the season, although you might have to change your strategy.

“The way we hunt turkeys is not like what you see on television; dare to be different,” he said. “Sometimes what works in late season is exactly the opposite of what everyone else is doing.

“Carry a custom call because of the unique sound it will make. More than likely turkeys have heard everything else. I killed a stubborn gobbler after four days of hunting him by simply scratching in the leaves after he flew down. I wanted to call, but I had called him hard for three days in a row.”

He said controlling the impulse to call is a major factor for success as the season ages.

“After the gobblers get pressured, often less is more when you’re calling, especially as the season progresses,” Murphy said. “Tone down your calling, and often you’ll have to eliminate the loud cutting and yelping that worked so well in the early season.

“Soft clucks and purrs are often best, as most of the easy-to-call birds are dead.”

Murphy said to stay focused, safe and patient — he’ll be looking for your success post on the NorthCarolinaSportsman.com forums.

About Terry Madewell 812 Articles
Award-winning writer and photographer Terry Madewell of Ridgeway, S.C., has been an outdoors writer for more than 30 years. He has a degree in wildlife and fisheries management and has a long career as a professional wildlife biologist/natural resources manager.

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