Spring Turkey Hunting 101

Whether a spring turkey hunter will be successful is often determined before he ever picks up a gun and takes to the woods. Fooling a spring gobbler depends on good skills and knowing where the birds are, which requires preseason practice and preparation. Here are some tips for getting ready to bag your bird.

Fooling a spring gobbler depends on good skills and knowing where the birds are, which requires practice and preparation.

Late winter is the time to start brushing up on calling skills, to try out a new calling device or two and perfect the tone, cadence, and intricacies of each call.

Buy or borrow a video or audio tape of actual turkeys calling and expert human turkey callers demonstrating their skills. Pay close attention to the subtleties of the calls. Learn to match them.

Study up on calling – the hows, whens, wheres, and whys of attracting turkeys. For example, loud yelping is sometimes the best calling, especially for young gobblers early in the season. But at certain times, such as daybreak, or late in the season, it may scare away more experienced gobblers.

Be sure your calls are in good operating condition. Check your mouth calls to make sure the diaphragms have not deteriorated, and see that your friction calls are in good shape and chalked up.

Along with calls, be sure your other gear is in order. Take time to pattern your shotgun and determine its effective range, especially if you’re using a new gun or load this season. Be sure your camouflage clothing – including accessories such as gloves, hat, and headnet – are in order. Minor oversights in this category, such as white socks or reflective eyeglasses visible at an inopportune moment – can spell disaster on a turkey hunt.

In early spring, hunters should take to the field to locate turkeys. Your initial scouting can be over the telephone to friends, acquaintances, and natural resources personnel who might know likely spots to find turkeys. After you’ve identified some prospective locations, take a trip to the area to search for scratchings, feathers, dusting areas, and tracks. Spend most of your time searching the ground in mature hardwood forests and field edges.

As hunting season draws nearer, breeding season begins, and tom turkeys start gobbling in earnest. Spend as much time as you can in the woods at dawn and dusk, when turkeys gobble most. If they don’t gobble by themselves, try to annoy them into gobbling with an owl or crow call. The more gobbles you hear, the better you can pattern turkeys and more birds you’ll have to hunt.

Try especially hard to locate a gobbler the evening before your first hunt. Try to pinpoint his location, then sneak as close as you dare before first light the next morning. When legal shooting time arrives, make just three or four soft yelps. This is your best opportunity to take a tom.

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