Recruiting Turkey Hunters Year-Round
For Jay Wallace, Turkey Season Is An Extension Of Deer Hunting.
Hunting customers are gearing up for turkey season, and dealers are fine-tuning their inventories and promotions as they cater to this part of the market.
Jay Wallace, owner of Adventure Outdoors in Smyrna, Ga., knows that turkey hunting isn’t his most profitable hunting segment, but he’s developed techniques to maximize his sales and boost profit margins.
“Turkey hunting is not our largest season, but it is definitely a season we focus on and we advertise to,” Wallace said. “What we do to increase its popularity is put out prominent displays to promote turkey hunting. We leave products out all year long. We put out literature in the store to remind customers about when to purchase the products and to get ready.”
Wallace’s major effort to attract new customers to turkey hunting is focused on his customers who already hunt, but who have not tried the challenge of taking gobblers. This customer base is the most likely to make turkey-related firearm and accessory purchases, Wallace says.
“We have a lot of people in the store already, and we want to convert them to turkey customers,” Wallace said. “It’s a lot easier to take a deer hunter and turn him into a turkey hunter than to take a first-time hunter and get him involved.”
To increase his turkey-hunting recruiting efforts, Wallace has TV displays throughout the store, with videos of turkey hunts constantly showing. His goal is to catch his customers’ attention as they browse. Once done, his staff is ready to answer questions and demonstrate turkey-specific products. One of the major selling points he emphasizes is turkey season affords customers another opportunity to get their outdoor and hunting fix.
“One of the things our customers here in Georgia like about deer hunting is it gets them out in the woods. So we explain to customers that turkey season is just an extension of their deer hunt,” Wallace said.
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Once customers are interested in turkey hunting, Wallace’s first step is to help them select the proper shotgun. He likes the Mossberg Model 835 3 1/2-inch — it is also his best-selling turkey shotgun.
“It’s a firearm that shoots long distance and that’s what turkey hunters want,” Wallace said. “It holds a good pattern and it’s reasonably priced. Turkey-hunting customers are usually moderate- to lower-priced purchasers because it’s such a short season.”
Wallace also sells plenty of Benelli turkey shotguns, which he says shoot and cycle well.
“It’s very important customers have the proper shotgun that will shoot the proper pattern,” Wallace said. “You don’t want to send someone out with a modified choke that hits the turkey in the body and not the head. Dealers need to sell good-quality products to spare the game, and spare the hunter, also.”
Federal and Remington share top honors as Wallace’s best-selling turkey shotgun ammunition.
“It’s important to ensure new customers buy shotgun shells that are legal for turkey hunting,” Wallace said, emphasizing that a sales staff needs to be educated in turkey hunting. “It’s always good to have someone behind the counter who is a successful turkey hunter to educate the customer about everything he needs.”
Remington turkey ammunition is one of the best sellers at Adventure Outdoors.
Remington’s Premier Magnum Turkey Loads provide range, penetrating power and
dense, concentrated patterns.
Offering Clothing Is A Must
Camouflage for turkey hunters is incredibly important, Wallace points out, since turkeys can see 10 times better than humans. Wallace maintains a well-stocked clothing section with plenty of camouflage for his turkey-hunting customers.
“In order to have a successful turkey-hunting department, you must have clothing to go with it. It would be very difficult to sell just shotguns and ammunition and make a profit,” Wallace said.
Mossy Oak tops Wallace’s list of best-selling brands for turkey clothing, with turkey vests proving to be particularly popular.
“A nice turkey vest with comfortable padding is always going to sell well,” Wallace said.
He also recommends dealers stock different types of camouflage masks, especially masks that will work for turkey hunters who wear glasses.
“If you don’t sell any of the clothing for the turkey hunter, this part of the market is probably not going to be profitable for you,” Wallace said. “Clothing is something you can build on later if you’re just getting started selling turkey products. Give your customer whatever you can. That is a market that’s worth working with, even if it’s not going to be your largest market.”
In gear bags, Wallace sells more BLACKHAWK! bags than any other brand.
“A lot of the bags we sell are multipurpose,” Wallace said. “Turkey hunters like to carry their vests in these types of bags, along with their other gear. We sell gear bags for a variety of purposes all year-round.”
In turkey calls, Wallace says Primos is his top-selling brand.
“Primos does a great job of getting their product out to the consumer,” Wallace said. “It’s just a natural seller. Primos also provides great demo videos you can play in your store that help teach customers how to make a call.”
Wallace likes to help new turkey hunters choose their calls.
“The main thing with calls is to encourage your customers to practice,” Wallace said. “A customer can make a great call twice and then the third time, they’re a little bit off, and it can destroy their hunt.”
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Wallace also brings in skilled hunters to talk about turkey hunting during Adventure Outdoors’ annual turkey seminar.
“Experts come in and tell their stories and talk specifics about what they’ve learned in the field,” Wallace said. “They will use specific products, and give demos on how they use them and what’s worked for them.”
Wallace also runs a variety of special promotions in conjunction with the start of turkey season.
“We have sales we promote through email blasts,” Wallace said. “We check our computer system for customers who bought turkey gear in the past so we can target them.”
Once Wallace gets those customers into the store, he says it’s imperative to have what they’re looking for in stock.
“The most common mistake a dealer makes is not having what the customer wants,” Wallace said. “You need to understand the products that fit your area and have a decent supply on display and in inventory.”
Another common mistake dealers make is failing to balance their inventory of turkey-hunting products.
“Many dealers get into turkey hunting, take their budget and buy way too many diaphragm calls and not enough box calls,” Wallace said. “I recommend they find a distributor and work with them to have a spread of products, rather than a deep inventory for accessories.”
Turkey hunters are already in your store — they’re deer, bird and small-game
hunters who are waiting for you to introduce them to this added season.
Wallace says dealers have the opportunity to give turkey-hunting customers a personalized shopping experience they can’t get online or in a big-box store.
“In the chain stores, customers will just walk in and buy the product without knowing how to use it,” Wallace said. “That’s the advantage small stores have over the big-box stores: individual service to teach the customer how to use the products.”
By J.K. Autry
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