By Mark Fike
Yes, it is not quite February yet, but for some folks spring gobbler season is just a little over a month away. Our southern states have seasons that include a youth day at the very end of February or the first weekend in March with regular seasons beginning after that. Seasons gradually open later as you move north across America.
Before the season opens there are a lot of things a consistently successful turkey hunter must do. Here are the top 5 pre-season turkey hunting chores, not necessarily in order of importance.
1—Get your gear out and examine it. Do you need to replace any of it? Are your mouth calls split; do they work properly? Does your blind open and close with ease? Does your turkey gun need any work done to it at all?
2—Make sure you have the proper ammo for your turkey gun and pattern it. Josh Boyd did an excellent article on the Winchester Longbeard ammo last week. Read it. Great ammo and a great read. Do take the time to pattern your gun.
No one wants to spend several mornings getting up well before dawn, setting up on a field or in the woods and calling a bird in only to miss or wound it. Patterning your gun with the ammo you plan on using is well worth the cost of that shell or even two or three shells. Call it hunt insurance or harvest insurance. Don’t leave home without it!
3—Practice with your calls. It is probably best you do this in the truck and away from your spouse unless your spouse hunts with you. My wife once threatened to shoot me if I made one more turkey noise. Turns out the sound drives her crazy. She likes hunting but turkey calls are not her thing.
When practicing with your calls, learn how to do a wide variety of calls. Imagine if you went to a foreign country and tried to sell something in their language but your vocabulary was limited. Now imagine how much more successful you would be if you could wheel and deal with an unending vocabulary because you were fluent in their language.
See what I mean? If you speak turkey, you can coax a wary bird in when they seem hesitant. If you can only do the same three calls all day long, you won’t be as persuasive. Get a CD, get online, go visit a good turkey caller and learn, learn, learn!
4—Scout for turkey before the season opens. While turkey and deer are creatures of habit, they won’t always use the same areas if there have been changes to the landscape. I had a place to hunt that I went to each year on opening day. Because I always heard turkeys there, I did not always scout it.
One year I showed up before dawn and found a gate, gravel road and clearcut where my turkey spot used to be! The owner had neglected to inform me that they sold the place the month before opening day and just after waterfowl season ended, and I assumed I could hunt spring gobbler. It was a bad morning when I showed up to find my hunting spot was gone.
Scouting allows you to get a pulse on what birds are available and overwintered and survived. Scouting can be done with boots on the ground looking for scratchings and feathers or dust bowls or it can be done from the area where you park by glassing fields with optics to avoid spooking birds. Turkey rarely get bothered by vehicles. If they see a person they generally run fast.
5—Renew permission and any necessary licenses. This goes without saying. Be sure to touch base with the landowner and check your license. No point in making a landowner irate or getting a ticket simply because you did not check things out.
Start your season now by getting ready to be successful. These five tips will help you bring home some fresh turkey and a long beard!