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Monday, June 20, 2022

Turkey Hunting: The Gateway Drug

Spring turkey season is approaching quickly, and with it the chance to introduce someone new to the sport of hunting. Turkey hunting is much less intimidating for a new hunter. For starters, most people eat turkey regularly on sandwiches and annually for thanksgiving. It’s likely the prospective hunter has helped clean out a plucked bird to prepare it for a holiday roast before. This experience with the meat from a turkey helps connect the dots between hunting the bird and consuming it later. Also, wild turkeys are not exactly the most charismatic-looking animals. There is certainly a beauty to watching them strut or cluck around, but the lack of fur tends to cause less of an empathetic response than one gets from a deer for example.

Hunting the birds can be more forgiving than other species as well. The use of a shotgun and birdshot means that there is a slight (though often overstated) margin of error involved. Less precision is required than when putting an arrow through a deer’s heart at 45 yards. Now, not to say that turkey hunting is easy. Far from it. The challenge of sneaking in on a tom and luring them into your decoy spread is exhilarating. A day of spring turkey hunting is filled with camaraderie, early mornings, mild weather, and close calls. It is also usually filled with some interaction with turkeys. When deer hunting, you can go out for days on end and maybe only see a couple of deer. You know they’re close, but they never seem to materialize. When turkey hunting, if they are close by, you will usually know it when their loud gobbles thunder through the timber.

In short, turkey hunting is the perfect way to start a prospective hunter on the path to being a lifelong outdoors enthusiast. Killing a turkey is less intimidating than a mammal, the meat is delicious, and cleaning them isn’t as messy. Hunting them in the spring is filled with drama and close calls. If you’re lucky and a bird comes into range, the new hunter can point the shotgun and send hundreds of lead pellets towards the bird. It is a great opportunity to start teaching someone the basics of conservation, ethical hunting, marksmanship, and general woodsmanship. There is arguably no better initiation to the world of hunting than chasing a spring turkey.

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