Updated: Apr 27
"To hunt successfully, you must know your ground, your pack and your quarry" - K.J. Parker
It’s early April and the weather is just starting to warm up in Texas. The bluebonnets are
beginning to bloom and it’s noticeable the wildlife is becoming more active. At the same time, social distancing has become the new normal and having to find ways to be active while keeping our distance from one another is top of mind. With that being said, what better time than now to get outside and enjoy nature before the Texas heat kicks in. For those that enjoy hunting, and for those that may have never had the opportunity, may we suggest finding some land, taking a shotgun, a turkey call, and setting yourself up in a ground blind?
Here at The Modern Gentleman, we want to give you a basic rundown of this ancient past time to help you get started and find an alternative way to enjoy mother nature. One of the most peaceful activities in our mind is hunting, especially turkey hunting. There is a lot of waiting, silence, and tranquility to take in. While we don’t always get to bag that trophy we are after, the peace of being one with nature in the middle of our busy lives seems like a trophy in itself.
Peace isn’t the only emotion you’re going to feel when hunting. The challenge presented when trying to outsmart a turkey and set yourself up for a clean shot is also invigorating. When a hunter sees a big gobbler strutting in, the adrenaline really starts flowing. The feeling of a challenge and a rewarding result for your patience is always bittersweet, but let’s face it, we are out there ultimately for one reason. Whether it’s to put meat in the freezer or spend time with the people you’re closest to, there may be no better experience while enjoying the spring weather. From a surface level, we will give you the basic information & tools you’ll need to get started and be successful in the field.
Safety and Lawful Knowledge
For the beginners, make sure you’ve got all the necessary licensing and training required by the state you are hunting in to be able to safely handle a firearm. Understanding the bag limit for the given species you're hunting is will keep you from having a bad run-in with the game warden. Another piece of advice would be to check your state’s parks and wildlife department website to make sure you’re playing by the rules. For the Texans out there, here is a link that answers all of the questions that you may be concerned with when it comes to what you're allowed to hunt turkey with, when it is legal to hunt turkey, and the additional tags that must be purchased on a hunting license to be legal plus much more.
Hunting gear requires an initial investment. While It’s not cheap and the price ranges greatly depending on the brand and quality, if you take good care of it, you can expect a good return on your investment. We suggest spending what you’re able to, but don’t go for the cheapest equipment just to save a dollar. It is cheap for a reason.
Depending on the state and county laws you're hunting in, different firearms can be used to hunt turkey. Here in Texas, we're allowed a shotgun, compound bow, or a crossbow. The most common and easiest method if you're just starting out is a shotgun, and a 12-gauge, preferably when hunting turkey. These firearms can range from relatively inexpensive to the higher end of the spectrum, so depending on your level of expertise and what you are willing to spend, here are a few great options we suggest:
- Remington Model 870 Express 12 GA Pump Shotgun
This is a great shotgun to get started with. It shoots true and won’t break the bank.
- Stoeger M3000 12 GA Semi-Auto Shotgun
While a pump shotgun makes a man feel alive, the ease of not having to manually reload between each shot will ensure timely precision. It’s a little pricey but that’s what you get for the semi-auto feature and a sleek look.
- Benelli Super Black Eagle III 12 GA Semi-Auto Shotgun
While the price may be higher than the previous options, if you look at yourself as a seasoned hunter and plan to continue the sport until you can’t lift a shotgun anymore, the Benelli is worth your investment. With impeccable craftsmanship, top of the line features, and unmatched beauty, a Benelli is hard to match.
Now that you’ve got yourself a gun, now you need the ammunition. However, you can't buy any 12-gauge shell when hunting turkey. The length of the shell, velocity, and size of the pellets in the shell are all factors that come into consideration. Make sure to check the length of the shells your shotgun accepts to avoid any safety disasters. The shot size (diameter of the BBs in the shell) is also important to ensure your shot ends the way you intend it to. When hunting turkey, we suggest using either a 4 or 5 shot round. These shells give us enough power to take our target down humanely.
Here's our recommendation to ensure that big ‘ol strutter goes down on contact:
- Federal Premium Mag-Shok Turkey Load 12 GA
The Art of Stealth
When it comes to our choice of covering and clothing in the field, this could be the difference between bringing a 15-inch beard in or having him turn and burn. Turkeys are smart creatures and have a great sense of sight, so to see the turkey before it sees you, you’re going to need to blend in with your surroundings. It's highly recommended to find a blind as well as dress in a camouflage pattern that matches the terrain and foliage you are hunting in.
- The Cover
Here at The Modern Gentleman, our ideal situation is sitting in a pop-up blind because they are easy to set up, very portable, in addition to enjoying a hot cup of coffee while watching the sunrise. To stay even more stealth wearing a full facemask or putting black facepaint on will make movements less noticeable when peering through the windows of a blind. This may be a no-brainer but setting your blind up in a discrete location, and brushing it in under a tree or in tall grass, will prevent it from being easily spotted by the game.
- The Attire
Approaching what clothing you will need, I love all of the hunting gear and everyday clothing from a company named Duck Camp, based out of Austin, TX. The look and quality of their gear is great as well as functions the way you need it to when hunting. When it comes to setting up shop in your blind, there is a lot of sitting and waiting, so being comfortable in the elements makes for a much more enjoyable experience.
Turkey decoys are how you bring the big boys in. Using a realistic-looking decoy setup will translate to success in your hunt. They need to look realistic because these birds see better than humans, so if they get a feeling they are being set up, you're in for a long, uneventful day. A decoy with lifelike features and colors is crucial. Without going into too much detail, there are three types of decoys on the market. A hen (female turkey), jake (young male turkey), and gobbler (mature male turkey). The phase of the breeding season you are hunting in (pre-breeding, peak-breeding, and post-breeding) will dictate your decoy setup. The prices for these decoys can vary, the more lifelike they look, the more they will cost.
Some quality decoys that won’t put you in the poor house are these Primos Hunting decoys:
Having precise turkey calls adds the missing link to the lifelike quality of your decoys. Turkeys will hear you before they see the decoys, and that is exactly what we want. They pinpoint where the enticing hen noises come from, so read up on how to speak their language (purrs, putts, clicks, yelps, cackles, etc.). Just as the unrealistic decoy will scare off your bird, the call will do the same. The prices can range, but knowing how to master the call you purchased is what will lead to a full day of action.
This starter pack comes with three different types of calls:
To be honest, there is so much more technical and tactical information that could be shared to get you in the prime position to bag a gobbler, but this will get you started. As a hunter, we learn from our mistakes, failures, and successes. Sometimes it just comes down to being in the right place at the right time. To be in the right position, you’ve got to be in the blind early and wait it out. While we may sit for hours on end to take a beautiful trophy home with us, the real joy comes from the serene peace and quiet you’ll experience in the field. Get outside, enjoy nature, and bag a big one!
Keep calm, shoot straight, and as always... Stay Suave Gentlemen.