Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Adobe Photoshop > Technique

Peachpit's Thanksgiving Photo Recipe: How to Shoot a Turkey

Meat lovers and vegetarians alike will love this all-natural recipe for shooting the perfect holiday bird. Although Native Americans once feasted on wild turkey, (Meleagris gallopavo), its relative, the domestic turkey, is still a favorite at the dinner table during the holiday season. That said, you don't need to cook this bird to enjoy it — all you need is one good shot, and this photography recipe will show you how to get it.
Like this article? We recommend

Ingredients: Depends. Are you shooting wild or domestic? A quick way to tell the difference between a wild turkey and a domestic turkey is to look at the ends of the feathers. If the tips of the tail feathers are white, it's a domestic turkey; if they're all black, you've got a wild one.

Meleagris gallopavo

(Click to enlarge) Peachpit editor Ted Waitt shot this turkey (named Gus) at the Oakley Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana.

For photography we're pretty much sticking with the big male, or "tom," turkey. The female hen is smaller, more timid, and much less colorful. The tom turkey has red, purple, and green iridescent feathers, and when he gets excited his head turns blue. Get him fighting mad and his head turns bright red. Look out!

Utensils Required:

  • Head-to-toe camouflage clothes
  • Turkey caller(s)
  • Portable photographic blind that's big enough to sit in
  • Chair, food, and water
  • Digital camera
  • Telephoto zoom or long, telephoto lens
  • Tripod

Portion Size: Males up to 48" and 25 lbs.

Location: Open woodlands and forests with scattered clearings.

Caution! Turkeys can run up to 18 mph, take off like a helicopter, and fly up to 55 mph. They're big birds that can move fast. All of this size and speed, combined with an aggressive nature, can make turkeys downright dangerous. Being ground birds, they need to be tough and mean to thwart cougars, eagles, coyotes, and the occasional careless photographer. Their reputation for toughness even spawned a whiskey, "Wild Turkey" Kentucky bourbon, supposedly a favorite among rough, hard-living types — not a recommended utensil for this recipe, however...

Preparation Time: You'll want to plan your shoot for early spring when male turkeys — also called gobblers or tom turkeys — gobble and strut to announce their presence to females and to warn competing males to stay away. Hens will yelp to let the males know where they are. Strutting involves puffing out their feathers, spreading tail feathers, and changing their head color — all of which make for a nice shot.

Actual Shooting Time: All day. You must get started early... very early, well before sunrise. And don't plan on coming home until after dark. This is a waiting game.

Shooting Instructions: To get your bird, you'll want to call to your turkey from a well-situated blind near the strutting areas of dominant tom turkeys. Calling means you make sounds that will attract the attention of the love-starved tom or get him thinking that a rival is working his territory. Most people use a variety of "turkey callers," some even imitate the turkey sounds with their voice. The home range of turkeys in the spring breeding season is usually less than 300 acres. So, if you're in country that you know has turkeys, you're almost certain to have one within range of your call.

Once you find an area that is known to have turkeys, you can try to follow them through the woods, but you're not likely to have much luck. Turkeys can see and hear you long before you see or hear them, especially in the west, where there's less forest and turkeys are out in the open — where they can spot you from a mile away.

If you're in the right area, and lucky enough to hear or see a tom turkey — or even a rafter of turkeys (yes, that's what a group of turkeys is called), you might be able to get a long shot off when they move into a clearing. But to get a closer shot of turkeys feeding, fighting, dusting, and otherwise acting naturally, you really need to use a blind.

Some people call blinds "hides," which is much more descriptive of what you're actually doing, hiding. A blind lets you change lenses, move the camera around, and do other things that would instantly cause panic in any sensible rafter of turkeys. Setting up your blind near trees and brush can help make it look like it belongs in the area. Some people will increase their chances of getting turkeys to approach by putting out a couple of plastic decoys. A couple of hens and a jake (an immature male turkey) will usually work well. The gobbler will approach the jake first and circle around to get in front of it.

But in order for the blind to work, you have to set it up a few days before you're going to use it. Then, on the day of shooting, arrive at the blind before sunrise, set up your chair, water, food, and camera... and wait.

Be sure to constantly check your exposure and adjust for changing light. If the turkey shows up, you have to be ready. Make a couple of turkey calls, and wait. Listen for any response. Nothing, wait some more, make another turkey call, maybe a different kind…wait. If you're lucky, you'll get a nice "gobble or cluck" back after one of your calls. Keep it up, draw him in — but don't be too aggressive. Real turkey calling is an art and requires strategy and knowledge. Turkeys can make a lot of noise; they're constantly clucking, purring, and yelping to each other as they move through the brush. It's this social noise that you can use to get them closer.

Yelp, purr, cackle, kee-kee, cluck.

There he is... click, click, click. You got him.


Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020