Preparing for a Turkey Hunting Swing

Preparing for a Turkey Hunting Swing

By: Drake Dury

At 3:15 PM my High School bell rang signaling that the school day was over. I ran out the door with reckless abandon, hopped in the truck and was off for Kansas. Within the first day of hunting, I had a bird on the ground and pointed the truck East for another adventure. Ten hours later I found myself in Kentucky, and on the second day of the hunt I had filled a tag. This sounds like the best three days anyone could have and to some extent it was, but there was one problem, it was not efficient. Traveling for Turkeys is one of the most rewarding and fun ways to experience amazing hunts in new places. Doing this has personally made me a more well rounded hunter allowing me to be proficient in different environments. The only downside is it can be hard to know how to get started. 

Taking the Time

The most effective way of hunting in this fashion is by hunting in swings of multiple states at a time. This can be in any length of time you feel confident in harvesting a bird. Personally, I like to allot three days per state because on average it takes me two and a half days to fill a tag. I typically do not like my swings to be less than five days in length because there is nothing worse than trying to rush too much into a short window of time. I understand that not everyone has the same time off, but if you are able to take a Monday through Friday off you can then add the weekends allowing for nine days of hunting. Now it is time to pick when to go. May has always been the best time for me because it does not conflict with my school schedule, but the downside is in many states the weather is considerably hotter. On top of that,  you are dealing with birds that have already been hunted. I will say, in May I tend to see very little hunting pressure in most states, meaning, it can be a good timeframe to get away from other hunters. April is a better month for weather in my opinion, but you also run into more hunters and birds can still be flocked up. In all honesty, both months are great choices and the main concern should be when you have time available. 

Hotel, Truck, or Tent

Accommodations can be pricey or virtually nonexistent with that being said this is a decision you will have to make. Hotels are an absolute luxury. I cannot express how nice it is to take a shower and get to lay in a full size bed every night, however, is it worth $50-$100 a night? For me the answer is no. Why? Because at the end of nine days you are looking at a $450-$900 bill that could have gone to gas in the truck and more tags in the pocket. Something else to consider is the time it takes to drive from your hotel to your hunting spot. A thirty minute drivetime could risk the chance of someone beating you to the spot and it takes up an hour that could have been spent sleeping. Two years ago my older Turkey hunting mentor and I decided to plan a hunt in Nebraska, and during the duration of this hunt we decided to rent a hotel. Due to the drivetime and the long hike to our spot, we had to get up at 2 AM and would not return till 10 PM. As you can imagine, this made for extremely long days and sheer exhaustion during the whole trip. I am not saying this to dissuade you from booking a hotel I am just saying to take these things into consideration before booking a room. Truck camping is the way I prefer to travel because most of the time you can sleep at the trailhead, you are extremely mobile, it is the cheapest option, and you get the most sleep. There are downsides to truck camping however. If you are someone who has to take a shower everyday, all I can say is goodluck. Many times while truck camping I will not take a shower for seven or more days, and let me just say that this makes me so grateful for running water. The lack of electricity to charge your devices is something else that you have to take into account. I combat this by having a 20,000 mah Anker Battery Pack as well as a BigBlue 28w Solar Panel that allows me to have plenty of power to charge all my devices. I have used a gas generator in the past as well, but I did not like how loud it was or having to haul gas. Tent camping is another option for keeping the expenses low while on these trips. I personally have not tent camped for a turkey yet, but in more western states I could see this being a handy way to access backcountry Turkeys. Also, if you do not want to spend the money on a truck topper this is a cheaper option than truck camping. Other than that, tent and truck camping generally pose the same problems and have similar benefits. 

Nutrition and Hydration

Food is fuel your body needs to perform, especially when you are exerting yourself day after day. I will be the first to admit that when it comes to eating healthy foods on the road I do not take it as seriously as I should. Oftentimes after a long day of hunting I will be so tired that I end up choosing sleep over cooking. This year, I hope to fix this problem with proper planning. I plan on grabbing some ground venison out of the deep freeze and going to the store to buy eggs, lunch meat, cheese, and some condiments for my trip. I will not be eating any gourmet meals, but I will be able to get by and that is what matters. In the future, I will be buying a freeze drier so I can take homemade meals on the road. This will solve my nutrition problem because all I will have to do is rehydrate my meals with the Jetboil. I also chose to bring a seven gallon water jug and a Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System. Typically, I will fill up the water jug before I leave and throughout the trip I will fill it up at gas stations, but in the event I need water on the go I always keep my sawyer handy. 


In recent history e-scouting has become all the rage and for good reason. Having a good plan is going to make you the most efficient hunter possible which is extremely important when you are hunting on a time clock. For the purposes of this article I am going to use the tem e-scouting as an all encompassing term for doing your homework on a state. The first thing I do is take inventory of all the opening and closing dates of each state’s Turkey season. This allows me to create a rough timeline for the order of states in which I will hunt. Generally speaking, the states further South will open first and the rest will open in ascending order. With that being said, I typically will start a hunt in the Southern part of the swing and move North. Once I figure out the dates I will look at each state’s Turkey Harvest Report for the three prior years to determine which counties, regions, or units have the most harvested birds. I will say that if I had to choose between the county with the most harvested birds or the county with the third most harvested birds I would go with the ladder to try to escape hunting pressure. Personally, I would rather hunt for one bird knowing that I am the only one pursuing it than have twenty hunters compete for forty birds on the same block of timber. Once I narrow it down to a region, county, or unit, I will start to look for public land with the appropriate habitat. Appropriate habitat is a concept that I will tackle in a future article, but if you are trying to plan a trip now I suggest you watch some e-scouting videos on Youtube. A tactic I use to stay mobile and cover country is finding a spot on the map with the highest elevation so I can hear the surrounding area. This allows me to use my ears instead of my legs. Something else that I think should be noted is planning your travel route. What I mean by this is you should pick the fastest routes between states. The reason behind this is if you kill a bird in the morning you will be able to hunt a different state that evening. This year I am trying to fit eight states in a sixteen day window. This is no simple feat, but by using these efficient tactics I believe it can be accomplished if the Turkeys cooperate. 

Emergency/Truck Repair

This section is dedicated to the "What If". What if a tire goes flat? What if you witness a wreck? What if you get an oil leak? These are all the items I bring to mitigate the what if. 

Floor Jack


First Aid Kit that includes a Cat Tourniquet

Two extra quarts of oil

Spare Tire

Impact Drill with Sockets

Portable Air Pump (Mainly if going out West)

Zoleo Satellite Messenger

Noco GBX50 Jumper

40’ Tow Strap 


The items listed above allow me to travel with a secure frame of mind. If you hunt like this frequently it is a matter of when something unfortunate will happen not if. For this reason, it is important you keep supplies in your truck that will allow you to keep hunting if an inconvenience occurs. 

The Cost

Now that we have listed out everything it takes to efficiently hunt turkeys in a swing it still begs one question: How much does it cost? The simple answer to this question is roughly $350-$600 per state if you are truck or tent camping. If you do choose to go the hotel route you can add $50-$100 a day for your room. These numbers largely vary depending on where you are located, the price of gas at the time, and the region you choose to hunt. I am a Southern Illinois native which puts me in a very centrally located area to go on trips. This allows me to spend less money on gas when traveling from state to state. Another thing to take into account is how close together are the states you are planning to hunt. If you plan to hunt the Northeast then it might only take you an hour and a half to reach the next state whereas if you are in a Western state it could take you six hours of driving to reach your next destination. For these reasons, it is going to cost you more in gas to travel the West than it would the East. Last year, I did a small two state swing in Indiana and Ohio that only cost me about $325 a state. During these trips, the two most expensive aspects are going to be gas and hunting licenses, so if you are on a tight budget it might be beneficial to look into states with the cheapest tags and the shortest drivetime. The truth is you can spend as much money as you want by flying, booking hotels, or going on a guided trip and that is completely fine. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is a quality experience in the outdoors. 


Being a Traveling Turkey Hunter can be one of the most rewarding ways to experience the outdoors. For me, it has made me appreciate this amazing country we get to live in and enjoy its freedoms. The best part about it is with a little budgeting this can be accessible to everyone. My hope is that someone will be able to use this outline to create a trip of a lifetime.

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