Thoughts on turkey hunting from Brenda Valentine, First Lady of Hunting ®
Spring turkey is in full swing. So what better time to hear from National Wild Turkey Federation Spokeswoman and VANGUARD hunting pro Brenda Valentine about her thoughts on the state of the sport, her advice for hunters and the gear she uses to bag a bird.
“Few, if any, conservation story is as remarkably successful as that of the National Wild Turkey Federation. Huntable populations of wild turkeys can now be found over most of North America. Due to this widespread availability, there has been a virtual explosion of turkey hunting fans and fanatics.
The author with another good bird down.
Once it was thought that only those gifted few with a trained ear and a talent for mimicry calling could hope to be a successful or accomplished turkey hunter. To that way of thinking I say, “hogwash.”
As with any kind of hunting, there are a variety of methods, any of which can put a gobbler in the cooking pot. A couple decades of springs devoted to outsmarting my fine feathered friend has convinced me it is all up to the bird. It’s the gobbler that decides whether he will waltz in twirling and showing off his full courting regalia or if he’ll cower away, snubbing your most desperate pleading on every call in your hunting vest. A wild turkey has a mind of its own that can, and does, change often. This is the reason that not any one tactic will produce success every time. The hunter who keeps an open mind, a flexible attitude, and a large bag of tricks will always be the hunter with the most filled turkey tags.
I’d rather be a mediocre caller with a variety of tunes than an expert with only one song. There are days that all gobblers will turn a deaf ear to the most seductive yelps of a box call yet be utterly suicidal for any random scratching on a slate. I’ve seen a snuff-can tube call inspire five gobblers to race headlong into a load of Winchester No.5’s, while a gold-trimmed custom wing bone yelper sent them running for cover.
The reaction of a wild strutter on any given day is usually determined by a trial and error check. This is one reason why I carry an arsenal of hunting tricks and a bunch of calls in my turkey vest. You can find at least two box calls of different sizes and woods, as well as a glass and a slate pot with no less than four pegs in my pockets. Add to that a tin full of assorted diaphragms, a crow call, a hawk or woodpecker, an owl and a yelper, plus usually some new gadgetry I just have to try for the fun of it.
No matter the weather or mood of gobblers in the area I happen to be hunting, there are a few things I’ve found necessary for my own comfort, happiness and wellbeing. And, it’s a proven fact that when I’m happy, comfortable and my being is well, I kill more turkeys.
Here’s my list:
Redhead Turkey Lounger vest. This vest has a patented, integrated stadium style seat that supports my back for the most comfortable seat in the woods.
VANGUARD Shooting Sticks. Propping a shotgun barrel up in a ready position improves my aim and gives me more patience when dealing with a balky Tom.
RedHead Leafy Suit cap and jacket in Mossy Oak camo allow me to melt in with any surroundings and helps keep the ticks off me.
VANGUARD compact bino’s fit in a small pocket and are perfect for peering through thick cover or distinguishing between a Jake and a gobbler at distance.
And speaking of distance, Winchester Extended Range Turkey Ammunition is tops for reaching out and seriously touching the bald noggin of what was almost our National Bird.”