Ready for spring turkey season? Read on to learn some tips and tricks to get birds on the ground.
Tip 1: Walk Your Hunting Land
You'll see so many people out there with no sense of where to go or what's going on, especially on public land. Before the season starts, head out and start scouting. Look for signs of turkeys (or turkeys themselves) and get a good idea of where they're feeding and where water is present near their nesting areas. Make sure you also take some time to get acquainted with common flooding areas and places where roads may be impassable for a variety of reasons. Take note of storm shelters, too, if available.
Tip 2: Work Over Your Weapons
Take a day and go over your weapons, even those that you aren't intending to use for the season. Though you probably do regular maintenance, taking the time to really go over your tools with a fine-toothed comb can save you from getting out there and realizing your firing pin is misaligned or other common issues.
Tip 3: Read Up on State Laws
We talk about this a lot, but state laws change every year and county laws may, too. It only takes a few minutes to avoid a fine or other trouble. Make sure you find your local laws and read them before going out.
Tip 4: Early to Rise
Most hunters looking to bag turkeys are religiously morning hunters. The birds are just getting started and are slower to notice hunters than they should be first thing in the morning. Plus, you may have a little fog or mist hiding you. They're also more likely to be out and about looking for food than later in the day when they may decide to take a nap.
Tip 5: Patience is Key
Keep calling, keep waiting. The birds are coming, but it might take a few trips to bag the one that you want. A patient hunter never goes hungry.
Tip 6: One Weapon, Plenty of Support
Many states limit hunters to one to two weapons during the turkey season but they don't usually tell you how many tools you can bring with you. Load up on necessities like calls, tools to help you spot birds, and the other essentials to make the most of your hunting trip.
Tip 7: Try, Try, Try Again
Never give up, because there will still be birds no matter how long the season lasts. What really matters is finding your spot and knowing how many hunters will be in the area. Talk to these hunters, find out what they're seeing if they're willing to share that information. Most people hunting on public land work together to bag their birds so one hunter isn't shooting off another's calls without prior notice (which happens – try to be understanding).
Tip 8: Startle Them
If the birds are a long way off and seem to be ignoring your calls, try startling them into flight toward your spot. This can be tricky if they're out in a wide meadow and you have to go creep around, but if your truck is nearby and you're up on a ridge, simply go slam your door to have them run off toward a better vantage point for you. If food is plentiful, they aren't going to go very far but it should be in your direction. And it might open you up to get your shot.
Tip 9: But Not Like That
Be careful not to stomp or give your location away. Throwing a rock from where you're stationed is only going to send them scattering elsewhere. Having a friend throw a rock from across the meadow, though? That's smart.
Tip 10: The Most for Your Money
Trying to get that big, mean old gobbler up to the front so he can meet his maker? Yeah, there's a reason he's so old and it's because he's a cagey boy, coy and stubborn, that knows something goes on every year around this time. His spurs are probably ten miles long and he's fifty pounds if he's an ounce. Monster Turkey does not care about your calls or your fancy food plot. Monster Turkey is hiding in the trees all day and surviving off of spite.
So how do you get him down?
Scare his hens. Make them panic. He'll be down and livid to see what's going on and what's threatening his flock. Then, you can take him.
Tip 11: Quiet Down
Sometimes, silence is all you need. Call to the turkeys all you want, but give them a chance to answer. Once you've got a Gobbler on the line, let him come in to try to find that saucy hen that's talking to him. Constant calling makes a turkey think that the bird is either injured or that something else is wrong. Some may not come if you don't quiet down now and again.
Tip 12: Timing Your Hunts
While morning is the hallmark for turkey hunts, don't ignore evening hunts or ones later in the season. You may not get the largest toms available, but any meat is good meat and plenty of big boys are usually hiding out until they think the season is over.
Tip 13: Afternoons Bring Gobblers
Closer to the end of the season when hens are nesting, gobblers will be out looking for ladies that aren't occupied yet. Watch the flock and see if you notice hens disappearing rapidly. If you do, try calling for gobblers later on in the day. They're likely to turn up.
Tip 14: Bring Helpful Sighting Tools
Instead of relying on your own vision, bring binoculars or slide-down binocular glasses to help you see these birds better throughout the season.
Tip 15: Be Well Rested
We know you need to get out early in the morning to get your hunt on, but remember to get a good night's sleep before you head out, too. The birds will still be waiting for you even if you need to stop and grab a cup of coffee to wake up.