As we move out of the fall/winter hunting season, the time to prepare for turkey season has arrived. Here are a few tips to help you get ready.
If you are like me and enjoy using mouth calls, it is important to make sure they are in good working order before the start of the season. More popular calls such as pot calls and box calls are nearly maintenance free. Because of this, it is easy to assume your mouth calls that haven’t been used much will function properly year after year. However, this is not always the case. Due to their latex reeds, mouth calls are susceptible to drying out and sticking together. It is worth it to dive into your vest ahead of time and give your calls a good look-over. Maybe even try them out to make sure they still work. This will help avoid unnecessary stress when you start calling on opening day.
Now is the time to pattern test your shotgun. Pull out those collections of choke tubes, get a few different brands of shotgun shells, and see which combination gives you the best pattern at 40 yards. Ammo options have changed a lot in the past few years, so it will be worth your while to test out your options.
Also, get your bow out, blow off the cobwebs and practice shooting with the broadheads you plan to use. Be sure to check flight compared to your broadheads used for deer hunting and make any adjustments prior to opening day. There is a very good chance point of impact is not the same if you are switching your broadheads.
Where you hunt will determine the type of boots you should wear. It is imperative that you wear footwear that is proper for the terrain. Be sure to prepare ahead and select shoes that can keep going as long as you can. If you are in the south and having to deal with snakes, you may want to invest in a pair of snake boots. If you are hunting some swampy areas maybe a pair of rubber boots. Either way, foot comfort is key in any environment.
Outdoor wear has changed quite a bit over the past few years. Some come with a pre-impregnated insect repellant. Others boast a lightweight moisture wicking synthetic/wool. Whatever you choose to go with, remember to allow yourself to blend into your environment. Turkey’s have stellar eyesight, so a good hat, lightweight gloves, and a facemask will go a long way in keeping you hidden.
If you can spot your quarry before they spot you, that’s winning. A set of binoculars is just what the doctor ordered! A small pair of 8x32 or 10x30 are perfect. The key is to go small and lightweight. You will be happy to have them, and even happier about leaving the bigger, heavier ones in the truck.
Don’t forget a rangefinder! If you have a chance in the morning while you are waiting on a stubborn bird, pull out your rangefinder and make a mental note of some of the ranges close by. This way, you can limit your movement once the bird gets within shooting distance. If you can’t check ahead of time, have your rangefinder handy so you can shoot a range once the bird gets close. This can be the difference between walking back to the truck with a bird over your shoulder or an educated turkey still roaming free.
This is a topic of every turkey hunting debate: decoy or no decoy? The way I see it, there is no harm in having one just in case. I have seen turkeys shy away from them, and I have seen them charge them. Personally, I use them in an open field and never use them in the timber. That being said, there is no correct answer. You never know how a bird is going to react.
These are must have items for spring turkey hunting. A Thermacell keeps the mosquitos at bay and permethrin keeps the ticks away. With Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases on the rise across the US, it would be foolish to go out unprotected. Be sure to read the labels for proper use.
Turkey hunting, for me, is an addiction. I crave it enough to have chased them in multiple states and completed my Grand Slam (taking four of the most common subspecies of the American wild turkey - the Eastern, Merriam’s, Rio Grande, and Osceola). Having the right gear and being properly prepared is a critical piece of the puzzle. You DO NOT need the most expensive or the fanciest equipment. More people have killed turkeys with a simple push pin turkey call than any other. Being prepared and learning to become a good woodsman is most of the game! Good luck this coming spring, and be sure to share with us your successes.
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