Capturing Images of Wild Turkeys

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Capturing images of the wild turkey requires patience and technique. In this video, professional wildlife photographer Doug Gardner gives you tips on photographing wild turkeys in their natural habitat. You will learn how to position decoys, how to use camouflage, what telephoto lenses work best, how to prepare yourself before the turkeys appear, and various shooting methods.

Doug sets up his decoy about 20 paces in front of his blind. Decoys draw the elusive turkeys in closer and keep them in your area longer. As he waits behind the blind, Doug uses a low chair to position himself behind his camera. He recommends using the 300mm and the 500mm telephoto lenses. To further disguise his presence, he wears gloves and a face mask, and makes sure to keep a watchful eye out for wood ticks, red bugs, and snakes. As the dawn comes up, Doug hears gobbling noises as the turkeys fly down from their roosts. He employs a turkey call to lure them in closer.

When the birds move near the decoy, Doug first gets his base exposure off the decoy, using a spot meter in manual mode. Then, he focuses on the actual turkey’s eyes for clarity. Generally, he sets his shutter speed at 1/125th and his f-stop at 5.6 or 8. The idea is to blur the background for creative depth of field. To remain anonymous to the birds, he is very careful to avoid quick movements. He captures group and portrait images of hens and gobblers.

It’s the breeding time of year and the birds’ balletic antics are well worth capturing. As a bonus, a doe with her yearling suddenly appear in front of Doug’s camera lens. The goal is to always be prepared for anything unexpected in Nature. Join pro shooter Doug Gardner for what you need to know about capturing wild turkeys.

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See all videos in our Techniques for Photographing Eastern Wild Turkeys Course: