The spring turkey season is one of my favorite times of year. Now that deer season is wrapping up in most places, it’s time to start preparing to hunt those long-bearded gobblers. If your willing to put in the work and prepare, wherever you hunt, will increase your odds of taking your limit on turkey this season.
Practice Calling: If you expect to call in a old tom with a 12-inch beard, practice and repetition will help you from making mistakes. It will help you become familiar with your calls, knowing what it does and the different sounds it can make. It is good to have several diaphragms, slates, and box calls. Sometimes the birds will especially like one call over another.
Scouting: Locating birds is the ultimate goal of scouting for spring turkey season. It is essential to scout your hunting habitat before the season opener. It is a good idea to get out in the woods before dawn before the season begins to determine where the turkeys are roosting at night, and where they are headed to feed during the day. Knowing where they roost gives you an advantage come hunting season. You then know where to set up an ambush from and call them down in the morning. If you need to, try locator calls such as owl, woodpecker and crow sounds to startle a response from nearby toms. Just keep in mind you want to locate them, not educate them or potentially spook them before the season opens.
Prepare your Gear: If your hunting with your shotgun this spring, get it out and clean it. Pattern your shotgun and test it with the choke and loads you will be using. If your bow hunting turkey, then keep practicing with your bow. Turkeys are surprisingly hard to kill with a bow and recover. They leave very little blood trail and when shot, love to play hide and seek. Find a good broadhead with a large cutting diameter for turkeys.
Concealment: Turkeys have very good vision and can detect the slightest movement coupled with excellent hearing. It is important to have comfortable camo that blends into your environment without noise. Don’t forget your headgear, facemasks and vests for total concealment and to meet state guidelines wearing orange where necessary. A pop up blind offers great concealment and really does’t bother turkeys at all. You can set one up the morning of the hunt and it won’t disturb them.
Decoys: Decoys can be a huge asset if you used properly. It only takes a couple of decoys placed strategically to fool even a mature gobbler. I like to hunt with just a jake and a hen usually. That is enough to really fire up a gobbler most of the time. A general rule is to position your turkey decoys at a 45-degree angle from the hunter on the opposite side of where you think the gobbler will come in from.
Tactics: Under cover of darkness, try to slip in and get set up undetected. Get your decoys set up and your blind positioned for a shot. Once the birds start to come out of their roost, listen for them. Don’t be afraid to get mobile. If the turkeys decide to head another direction from their roost, then make a move and try to flank them. Sometimes the toms will gobble all the way in, but sometimes they don’t make a sound and then they are right in front of you.
Spring turkey hunting can be full of action and exciting, but never let it overcome the need for good commonsense practices and safety in the woods. Whether we hunt alone, or with our family and friends, we set an example for others to follow. Hunt hard and hunt safe..
What do you do to prepare for spring turkey season?