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The Roving Sportsman… Prepping for Spring Gobbler Season

In life there are procrastinators and there are those who like to stay well ahead of the game, so as to not get caught short at the last minute. Keeping in mind that the Youth Hunt for spring gobblers is on Saturday, April 25, 2020, and that the statewide spring gobbler season will begin on

In life there are procrastinators and there are those who like to stay well ahead of the game, so as to not get caught short at the last minute. Keeping in mind that the Youth Hunt for spring gobblers is on Saturday, April 25, 2020, and that the statewide spring gobbler season will begin on Saturday, May 2, 2020, why not take time during a few of these less than pleasant winter days to do a thorough inventory of our equipment while there is plenty of time to repair or replace as necessary.

Begin by emptying out your turkey vest onto a workbench or tabletop. Check the mouth calls you have to make sure they are sounding as you like them to sound, and then secure them back into the vest. Slate and glass pot calls should be conditioned, worked to check their sound, then reconditioned once more and placed back in your vest. If you can find one, Tupperware makes a really solid container that most slate and class calls will fit into and it does a great job of protecting the calls from breakage. Chalk, check the sound and then rechalk your box call, and return it to a box call holster and back into your vest. Make sure you have a good sounding crow call and owl hooter, as they are two of the best locator calls for our nearby turkey woods. Place each of your locator calls in its own Ziploc bag to protect it from unwanted debris that always seems to creep into the turkey vest pockets.

Probably one of the most critical “gadgets” you can carry is a ThermaCell insect repellant unit. I have successfully used this item throughout the southeastern United States, and once along a swamp edge in the northeast. There is nothing as annoying and distracting as a swarm of mosquitoes that begins to arrive just after sunrise – especially if you have been negligent and have forgotten your ThermaCell! Yes, that happened to me several years ago in Florida. I smiled as dawn was breaking and two longbeards began to sound off in a tree a mere 80 yards from where I was sitting at the base of a palm tree. Shortly thereafter, I began to hear the buzzing of the mosquitoes that always seem to show up out of nowhere at sunrise. I had left my ThermaCell in camp, and now had to try to remain motionless as the two gobblers were peering down at their surroundings to locate a safe place to land. I gritted my teeth as the mosquitoes began boring into my neck and ears!

Every hunter that I ever talked to about this magical insect repeller swears by it and is amazed at just how effective it is against buzzing insects of all kinds. Make sure you also have spare butane containers and spare insect repellant pads for the unit.

You should be carrying a pair of pruning shears or clippers. The safest place to sit for hunting spring turkeys is with your back against a large tree. Often, there may be small branches or brush where you want to sit or where you want to see, and this may not become evident until daylight occurs. These clippers will make quick work of clearing out the spot where you sit as well as shooting lanes.

Place several Ziploc bags in your vest – they will come in handy for all kinds of uses, such as protecting slate calls, strikers and other items from the rain if need be. Even a damp or humid morning can deaden the sound of some slate calls or reduce the sound quality of some strikers.

A length or two of survey tape of fluorescent orange or green (NOT red) should be in another Ziploc bag and can be tied around the trunk of the tree where you are sitting, or used to help mark spots if you have to search for a turkey that appears to have gotten away.

Like much of the gear available to turkey hunters, specific ammunition for turkey hunting is continually evolving. One of the most recent entries into the market is the Federal Premium Heavyweight TSS Turkey Shotshell. Available in .410, 20 gauge and 12 gauge, it delivers a tight pattern of dense tungsten shot on target for maximum penetration at long range. Last spring, I know of an outfitter in Florida who insisted that his clients all use this very effective TSS loads. The results were 26 hunters taking 26 longbeards!

Get ahead of the game by examining your equipment now, and, if need be, you will have plenty of time to repair, replace or add to your gear before the last minute rush just before the season opens.

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