Expert Tips for Hunting Turkey with a Dog
If you think that turkey hunting with dogs started yesterday, you’re wrong…
Turkey dogging is a modern tradition that was practiced thousands of years ago by our ancestors. It was actually a gentleman’s favorite sport. However, the spot was left to the wealthy individual only as they’re the only one who had good turkey dogs.
Thankfully, today you don’t need to be among the rich to own a turkey dog – you can own as many as you wish. And assuming that you’re a turkey hunter, I’m going to teach you how to bag a bird in your next hunting trip (with the help of your dog)…
Of course, this has to be 100% legal in your state.
Let’s get started:
Turkey Dogging – Background Information
Before we can discuss the tips, let’s get a brief overview of what Turkey dogging is all about. As you know, spring and fall are the best seasons for hunting turkeys. While spring limits you to shooting the bearded birds only, fall allows you to take any turkey – including the hens.
The most successful turkey hunting technique involves looking for a flock of turkeys, scattering them in multiple directions, and ultimately calling them back as they start regrouping. This is where your dog comes in…
A turkey dog fitted with a GPS collar around its neck can roam the woods as far as 500 yards from the hunter. When the dog encounters turkey scent, it will follow it to the flock.
Given their superior speed and quickness, the dogs will do a better job at scattering the flock than the hunters. If your dog is well trained, it will send the birds in different directions and set the stage for you to call them back.
After your dog has successfully scattered the flock, you need to hide him in a camouflage bag or conceal him under camouflage netting. Some hunters even construct simple blinds from the nearby tree branches o cover up the dog.
Training is critical for this part because your dog should remain motionless as the turkeys start approaching to avoid interrupting them.
Top Tips on How To Hunt Turkey With Your Dog
1. Get The Right Dog
Your first task is to look for a decent turkey dog. These dogs come in different shapes and sizes. English setters and pointers Springer, Brittany, Labrador Retrievers, Boykin spaniels, Beagles and even the mixed breeds can make great turkey hunting dogs.
There are also some dogs that are specially bred for turkey hunting. An excellent example is John and J.T. Byrne, Virginia, who have developed their line of turkey dogs by crossing setters, plot hounds, and pointers. Their line of turkey dogs – The Byrne Appalachian – are excellent flock flushers.
Just don’t let the breed stereotype stop you. If your dog has a nose and desire to scare away turkey flocks (plus some simple obedience skills), it’s capable of hunting the turkeys.
2. Ensure You Train Your Dog Well
After you’ve found the right dog for the job, you now need to train him on what he’s to do once you’re in the woods.
How the hell do I start this? Are you asking yourself already? Well, below we have come up with a simplified method you can use to train your dog(s) and fully prepare him for turkey hunting.
The training should start with the basic obedience skills such as come, stay, sit, hunt ’em up, whoa, etc. the simpler you make them, the better. Remain consistent. Consider associating the commands with whistles. Pairing hand signals with body movements can also help the canine pay attention to how you move through the habitat.
Remember that you want to make your dog a great partner in your hunting trips. A partner full of character. As such, concentrate on building a strong bond with your hunting buddy. Their natural prey drive plus the association with hunting tactics will do the rest.
The more time you invest in training your turkey dog, the better it becomes.
Once you’re satisfied with your dog’s turkey hunting capabilities, it’s time to introduce him to the turkeys…
3. Take Your Dog To The Woods
Everything is settled now; you’ve got a great turkey dog, and you’ve fully trained him on how to take on the birds. And the next step involves heading to the woods for turkey dogging.
Ideally, your dog ought to move ahead, check back to the hunter’s location and seek turkey flocks.
When your dog finds the turkey flock – this can be from the ground, airborne or foot scent, visual contact, or all these signs combined – it should towards the turkeys, bark (to declare the location of the flock), and then chase the lingering birds into the air – in different directions.
As a hunter, you MUST be 100% attentive from your location. Immediately you hear the excited, yappy-sounding barks that indicate your dog is on the turkeys, take action! Find your dog as fast as you can to prevent him from chasing the birds too far (a GPS collar is essential here).
When you have found him, collect him and put him by your side. Allow everything to settle as quickly as possible.
4. Hide Your Dog/Call The Birds Back
Don’t waste a single second here! Try to call the separated turkeys while you hide your dog. You can put him in a Dog Blind or under any blind material. Make sure the dogs rests calmly as the birds start approaching.
The dog’s high excitement might even indicate the birds on approach. Discourage any movement from your dog as the birds can detect from far away. Covering his head will help calm him even more.
Important Note: Trying to hide your dog from the wary eyes of the regrouping turkeys can offset your hunting advantage at times. Don’t worry, though; it’s part of the challenge. Your dog will learn that it might be able to see many turkeys so close again and even get its mouth on the feathers. Be patient. It will get better.
Turkey dogging is fun. Your dog will do the hardest task of finding turkey flocks and flushing them out in all directions. Your job will become simply as you’ll only need to call the separated dogs and set yourself ready to take one down. Though you might not always bag a turkey while hunting with your dog, the overall experience in the woods will be great.
And if you’re using your bow to shoot the turkey, you would want to use a single pin bow sight for the ultimate accuracy.
Again, make sure dog hunting is legal in your state before giving it a try.
Jennifer is the founder of BuckWithBow, a great blog that focuses on helping you learn how to hunt deer with a bow. As an experienced bow hunter, she will guide you through the Do’s and Don’ts of the bowhunting world and transform you into a better hunter. Whether you are an experienced bow hunter or an absolute beginner, you will find BuckWithBow a gem!
At HuntEmUp.com, we know sporting dogs. From the time they’re a puppy, through their senior years, we’ll keep you informed on the latest news and information. For more information on Training, Preparing and Caring for your Dogs, read our Hunting and Sporting Dog blog.
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