Turkey Hunting with Modern Carnivore

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to go on my first ever turkey hunt.  I am not a new hunter but I am new to turkey hunting and I have to say, it was one of my favorite hunting experiences yet.  I cannot thank my mentors Joe Canella and his son Jack enough for all of the knowledge they passed down during this hunt.  At the young age of 17, Jack is a turkey wiz.  His knowledge of turkeys and how to hunt them is astounding.  I can tell that this wisdom has been passed down and learned over many hunts with his father Joe.  The pair are an unstoppable duo in the woods.

The Hard Part

Now this may come as a biased opinion, but the hardest part of turkey hunting is getting adequate sleep the night before the hunt.  The anticipation of the next day is hard to sleep through.  All I could think about as I lay there was about what the hunt may bring in the fast-approaching morning.  You can try to get to bed early but I would be willing to bet that, like me, the anticipation will keep your mind racing.  Most turkey hunters will tell you, if you want a good shot at the turkey, you have to get out early in the morning.  This means being in your spot well before legal shooting light.  Which in Minnesota is 30 minutes before sunrise.  So, with my alarm set for 3:30am, I lay in the cold trying to get some shut-eye.

The Easy Part

Now, talking with most experienced turkey hunters, you won’t find many that claim turkey hunting is easy.  This is certainly true.  However, there are always some things here and there that we can point out.  One example is that sometimes turkey hunting can involve a lot of sitting.  This can make the hunt accessible for those who may not be able to hike long distances or climb into a treestand.  You can set up a blind where you know there are turkeys and sit all day.  It helps to have experienced mentors like we did to call in the birds as this can take some practice. 

Turkey hunting can also be a great “first hunt” for those brand new hunters.  You are able to sit in a blind or under a tree with your mentor and as long as you are still and quiet, your mentor is able to show you the ropes right alongside you.  Another aspect that can make it preferable for new hunters is that you can do it for a relatively low cost.  There are obvious items that are needed, such as a shotgun.  However, as long as you have some drab colored clothing and can sit still, you will be set up for success in the woods.

The Enjoyable Part

Let me begin this section by trying to describe the morning scene I experienced.  I am sitting on a scenic piece of public land in Northern Minnesota.  It is a cold morning and it is just light enough to see the rough outlines of the terrain around you.  Despite my best efforts to be stealthy, the vegetation, crisp with the morning dew,  is crunching under my boots.  Our mentor Jack gives his best owl hoot.  In the distance, a lone gobbler responds.  My heart starts racing, this is the first time I have heard a wild turkey.  Now, we just have to get close to him. 

I find myself sitting on the ground leaned against a birch tree. My gun is perched on my knee, at the ready, in case the gobbler decides to strut into range.  The turkey is now to my right and I can hear him strutting in the field just over the ridge.  To my left, two loons are singing their sweet morning songs.  The earth is waking up.  The sun is just peeking through the trees warming the cold morning air.  It is heaven.  This is the enjoyable part.  Being able to sit in the woods with nature waking up all around you is a refreshing and enlightening experience.  Only by getting up well before dawn and trekking into the woods do you get to experience nature in this way.  

One last enjoyable piece of turkey hunting is the people you get to hunt with.  Unlike climbing up into the treestand alone, turkey hunters commonly stick together while hunting.  Then, back at camp you get to sit around a fire and share stories of the hunt.  This is one of my favorite times.   Whether it is the hunters around you, or the hunters of years past, there is an inevitable and unspoken connection that is felt by that fire.  Even though we did not bring home a turkey that hunt, I was not disappointed in the slightest.  It was my first turkey hunt, and I will remember those shared moments forever.

Here are some photos of the hunters who were lucky enough to harvest their first turkey, and their mentors!

Learn To Hunt Turkeys - Modern Carnivore

Nolan Kerr and his mentor Joe Mixer with their jake turkey

Learn To Hunt Turkeys - Modern Carnivore

Jim Specht and Greg Kvale (mentor) and Jim’s tom turkey.

Dawn-Nate-Rya with Dawn's Turkey - Modern Carnivore

Nate (mentor) with new hunters Dawn and Rya (and Dawn’s big tom turkey)


We also did a Modern Carnivore Podcast episode during this trip.  Listen HERE!


Register for Online Class – How To Hunt Turkeys


Delicious turkey recipes from Modern Carnivore!

Wild Turkey Katsu Sando

Wild Turkey Tamales

Wild Turkey and Wild Rice Soup


Posted by Matt Williams

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