It may still be chilly outside, but turkey season is just around the corner and preparing now for spring turkey is a must if you want to consistently harvest a longbeard turkey every spring. Besides that, getting everything ready for those nice spring mornings on the ridgeline listening to a wild turkey make his way in is a great way to shake those cabin fever blues.
Probably the most important piece of your turkey hunting gear is your gun. Your gun will probably need to be cleaned after being tucked away all winter in the back of the closet behind the squirrel rifles. It also should be shot to reassure you that it’s going to do the job one more turkey season. It’s like getting reacquainted with an old buddy you haven’t seen in months. Maybe you want to try a new turkey load or better sights. Try experimenting and fine tune your gun if needed.
The next most important piece of gear is your turkey hunting vest. I’m itching to get out there this spring so maybe I’m listing these in the order of the most fun things to get ready so bear with me. If you’re like me, your turkey hunting gear might be in a safe place, but you have to search for it every turkey season and it never seems to be where you thought you put it. This is another good reason to prepare your gear before the season. Nothing worse than scrambling to locate your vest and then find out you left it at your Uncle Roy’s house at last years turkey hunt.
Your turkey decoys might need a little attention after being scrunched up in a box. Set them up and make sure it’s all there. The turkey’s heads are the most visible and is truly what calls in a gobbler from across a hayfield when he had no intentions of going that way. You might want to touch up those gobbler heads with some paint to bring them back to life. Acrylic paint will do the job as long as you are confident in your painting skills. Another option is to take your turkey decoys to your local taxidermist. They know turkeys and will have reference cards as well, to follow. There are many different colors in a turkey head each meaning something different. Knowing what color to paint your decoy head can help you target all turkeys or just the mature longbeard turkeys in the flock. Talk to your taxidermist or research it for yourself.
Unless you carry a call around with you all year, I know a couple turkey hunters that do, you will be a little rusty on your calling. Many missed opportunities, especially opening weekend, can be attributable to a mistake in your turkey calling. A putt when you wanted a purr can send an otherwise committed tom heading for the hills. This missed opportunity will also educate the turkey and make him harder to call the next time around.
Calling turkeys can be tricky and knowing the habits of turkeys by their demeanor and posture can really help you coax it into shotgun range. While nothing compares to working a bird during a hunt for learning its habits make it a point to read about turkey behavior and try to recognize something new this season. I can assure you this will help you become a better turkey hunter as you increase your knowledge of the turkeys’ habits.
Another great way to improve success is to learn how to use new turkey call or two before the season. I spent many seasons with only a box call and realized I was just getting jakes to come in and a friend introduced me to reed calls and the slate. Jakes are fine with me because I hunt turkeys for their awesome flavor, but working a big old tom is so much fun that I practiced with these new calls and began seeing more mature birds and the way they act and respond to different calls.
Maybe you have the turkey calling down and just need to brush up with the turkey calls you have. There are a lot of different call types as well and some of these might help you, especially if you hunt alone. Maybe a call like the Primos Bombshell call that attaches to your turkey gun and allows you to call with a finger with your gun in position for a shot. These types of calls can work wonders on a turkey that has locked up within easy sight of your position, but just out of range. I like the old school slates and boxes, but having the option in those situations can mean the difference between a filled turkey tag and an easy walk back to the truck, empty handed.
SCOUT YOUR AREA
Scouting before the season begins is crucial to success when hunting turkeys. Turkeys move according to where the food is and this can change from year to year. What happened last spring might be the opposite of this one. Many factors can contribute to a turkeys’ behavior from one season to the next and scouting your hunting area is the best way to find turkeys and where they are concentrated going into the season.
Locating the area or areas where turkeys concentrate on your hunting property is a great way to assure success opening weekend, but you can take your scouting one step further to greatly improve your chances of harvesting a gobbler. Locating where the turkeys are roosting can be your ticket to tagging out early by putting you where the turkeys are when they fly down in the morning. This can be almost as fun as the hunt itself and can get you in the woods earlier in the year.
The best way to locate a turkey roost is by first locating the area the turkeys are hanging in as mentioned above. Then ease into the woods in the evening to a likely roosting area and just listen for the birds to fly up. They make plenty of noise so you can hear them from a pretty good distance unless it is windy. If you failed to hear a fly up try the next evening in another part of the turkeys range until you figure out where they are roosting.
Once you hear the turkeys fly up to roost or even better see them fly up, then you can plan your hunt for opening morning. Now it’s time to determine where the turkeys are flying down. You can go in before dawn and get close enough to watch the fly down and direction the turkeys go. You are now in a great position to harvest a turkey come opening morning, but as with all wild creatures there are no guarantees as the turkeys might fly down on the opposite side of where you thought. Remember the perfect hunt only comes a few times in a lifetime and there are more ways for the hunt to go sideways than to go perfectly. Be prepared and learn how to use your calls and decoys and put all the pre-season work together to make the hunt a success no matter what happens and have a great turkey season.