It all came together. You likely enjoyed one of the greatest springtime shows around and watched a gobbler come to within range of your setup. You just took the shot and now can’t wait to check the stats on your turkey; weight, beard, spurs, etc. To ensure you walk out of the woods with the gobbler in your vest and an evening meal you need a post-shot plan. Here’s the basics.
Prepare for a second shot and stay safe
Even if the turkey went down immediately, go ahead and make plans for a second shot. If the gobbler is still within range and you are not 100% sure your first shot will result in a quick expiration, take a second one. Keep firearm safety rules in mind the entire time of the hunt.
Approach your gobbler carefully
Toms have sharp spurs, even younger birds with rounded spurs can do significant damage. Turkeys will sometimes flop aggressively for up to a couple minutes or so after being shot. Be prepared before picking the bird up. After you have confirmed your turkey has expired, unload your shotgun.
Follow the rules
Make certain you fill all state game and fish laws after you recover your turkey. Most require immediate tagging and some require calling in as well. Know and study the regulations before you go out.
Take another shot – with a camera
Shot opportunities are often extremely quick. The moment of harvest took seconds while the preparation may have been months. Preserve the hunt with great photos. Grab a buddy or use the timer feature on a smartphone. Always clean up the turkey (wipe off blood, position feathers, etc) before taking photos. Include your gun or bow, but make sure it is displayed safely. Approximately 80% of the public doesn’t hunt so ensure social media posts or promos represent hunting favorably.
Packing out a heavy gobbler can be a chore and poses some safety concerns as well. To help with carrying, consider using a vest made specifically for turkey hunting. Wear a blaze orange hat or use the orange flag on your turkey vest while exiting to ensure another hunter doesn’t mistake you or the bird you are a carrying for a live gobbler.
Keep it clean and cool
During transport, keep the bird in a shaded area where it will stay clean and cool. As soon as possible, start the cleaning process. If you plan to do a full body mount, take the turkey to your taxidermist for skinning. If not, you can easily remove the beard, spurs, and tail fan for an attractive mount.
A well placed shot is just the beginning to enjoying fresh wild turkey with family and friends. Follow a plan and you will have the pan heating up in no time.