The Hunter’s Canon: Turkey

From the earliest tales of the mountain men to current books that detail even the most niche aspects of our sport, hunting has always spawned a vast and rich literary tradition. Over the course of five weeks, we’ll highlight our favorite books and onX Blog posts on Western Big Game, Upland, Whitetail, Turkey, and Waterfowl hunting. As seasons wind down, you’ll have a long reading list to keep you busy through the winter months.

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The pursuit of wild turkeys combines almost all the things we love about hunting—sunrises in the woods, the thrill of calling, and that feeling you only get when an animal comes charging toward your position. At first glance, turkey hunting seems simple, and, in some ways, it is. It serves as a great entry point for beginner hunters as the birds are distributed across the country and the list of required gear is short. Despite this, turkey hunting can take a lifetime to master.

In the books and onX Blog posts that follow, you’ll find everything from tips and tricks to classic hunting literature. Like you may have noticed with The Hunter’s Canon: Upland, turkey hunting, too,  inspires an almost romantic reverence for the birds and the landscapes in which they’re found. So add a few of these titles to your winter reading list and get ready for that first spring morning in the turkey woods. It can’t come soon enough.

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The American Wild Turkey by Henry Edwards Davis 

Our list begins with a book that’s going to be tough for you to find. It’s worth the hunt and expense, however, as Davis masterfully presents detailed observations of the wild turkey and a heartfelt plea for their conservation. Written at a time when the threats to the wild turkey might have seemed insurmountable, this book is a reminder to all of us that the things we care about are worth protecting.

America’s Greatest Game Bird: Archibald Rutledge’s Turkey Hunting Tales by Jim Casada (Editor)

Like Henry Davis, Archibald Rutledge hunted turkeys in South Carolina. Here, you’ll find 34 beautifully written stories compiled by Jim Casada, a sporting legend in his own right. Grab this one off the shelf, toss another log on the fire, and settle in with a hefty pour of something good. Better yet, just keep the bottle within arm’s reach—you’re going to be there a while.

The Art and Science of Wild Turkey Hunting by Lovett E. Williams

As a biologist and hunter, Williams’ understanding of the wild turkey is unmatched. In fact, his work provided the foundation for much of the research we see today. From dispelling common myths to explaining minute behavioral details, this book will undoubtedly help even the most experienced turkey hunters up their game.

The Complete Book of Wild Turkey Hunting: A Handbook of Techniques and Strategies by John Trout Jr.

Think of this one as the comprehensive “how-to” on the subject of turkey hunting. While other books may get deeper into certain aspects of the sport, Trout covers everything from biology and behavior to specific strategies for each of the subspecies found in the US. This isn’t a “mile wide but an inch deep” take on the topic, though. This is actionable information that belongs in every turkey hunter’s arsenal.

Tenth Legion by Col. Tom Kelly

We’ve covered a lot of books in the Hunter’s Canon series, but few stand out in an illustrious crowd the way Tenth Legion does. MeatEater’s Ben O’Brien calls it “the best turkey hunting book of all time,” and it’s hard to disagree. Simply put, if you only choose one book from this list to read, make sure it’s this one.

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Finding Turkeys With The Hunting Public

While mastering calling and decoy setups are massively helpful skills, they aren’t worth much if you can locate birds in the first place. Learn how the guys at The Hunting Public use onX Hunt to find birds year after year.

10 Tips to Find Spring Turkeys Using onX Hunt

Before you head into your spring turkey season, brush up on our top 10 tips for finding success in the turkey woods. Covering everything from our NWTF Later to scouting from home using Web Map, you’re sure to pick up a few tips and tricks from this post.

Go #BeyondtheStrut with NWTF

This four-part video series from NWTF documents a nearly 6,000-mile road trip across the West in pursuit of wild turkeys. Watch as hunters of all types and backgrounds find success and highlight NWTF’s vast conservation efforts.

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Christian Fichtel

Christian Fichtel grew up in North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains but now makes his home in rural Montana. He is a poet, a fly fisherman, and a firm believer that bourbon should be counted among mankind's greatest inventions.