Every spring, the majority of turkey hunters end the season without success, while the usual suspects seem to always come home with a gobbler. It is not as if the unsuccessful hunters are not trying their darndest, but it seems to boil down to a few common mistakes that seem to plague them every season. So, what are the pitfalls that keep them from filling their spring gobbler tags?
Lack of Preparation:
This seems to be a common thread among the unsuccessful spring turkey hunters — the inability to recognize the importance of pre-season planning and preparation. Every fall, hunters arrive in elk camp out west or travel to Alaska in search of Dall sheep and every hunter doing so realizes the importance of taking a few shots at a target range before heading into the field in search of the animals they are hunting. There is too great a chance that their rifle and scope will not perform as it did the year before (for a whole range of reasons), and a couple of shots on paper will confirm that nothing has occurred to change that. The very same is true of any shotgun you plan to use, believe it or not. Don’t be lulled into thinking this is a “scattergun” and you don’t need to be all that accurate with a shotgun! One or two shots at a target placed 30-40 yards away will confirm that all is OK. Do your research on today’s latest and greatest ammunition for turkey hunting. Yes, the old lead shot shells will still perform at the appropriate ranges, but today’s shells that use tungsten shot are much more effective at all the ranges that ethical shots can be taken. Finally, if you are fortunate enough to be able to hunt on private property, take time now, before the opening day, to pay a quick visit to the landowner to reaffirm your appreciation for their permission to hunt. It might be a good idea to show up with a fresh homemade pie!
Take It Seriously:
Not being properly motivated or only making a half-hearted attempt at anything will quickly lead to failure in most things, and that is very true of all kinds of hunting pursuits. Particularly in spring gobbler hunting, when morning after morning requires getting up well before sunrise and often hiking in the dark to arrive at your shooting location before daybreak, it becomes increasingly tempting to hit the snooze button — once, then twice, or perhaps deciding to take a morning off! The successful hunter is the one who stays pumped up every morning and heads to the woods eagerly looking forward to whatever the day will bring. Drink more coffee, take afternoon naps, and get to bed early — just do whatever it takes to stay alert and motivated in the turkey woods!
Lack of Patience:
With very little doubt, the greatest contributor to lack of success in hunting, and particularly in turkey hunting, is the lack of patience. The sad story we all hear all too often is the tale of someone calling for turkeys, waiting, calling again, and then, hearing nothing, starting to move to another location – only to have an incoming silent gobbler “putt” and fly away!
I recall vividly one frosty morning in my early days of turkey hunting that after more than an hour of calling and listening, the below freezing temperature got to me and I decided to take a hike to get the blood flowing. I circled back to my initial spot 45 minutes later and there stood a longbearded gobbler looking around for the “hen” that he had heard earlier! My lack of patience had cost me the opportunity of success that chilly morning.
It is a well-known phrase among realtors that, when it comes to selling homes, a key factor is “location, location, location!” Well, among hunters, particularly turkey hunters, you need to be always mindful of the importance of “patience, patience, and more patience!”
If you can eliminate any — and hopefully all — of these three pitfalls, it will go a long way toward your bringing home the bacon, or, in this case, the non-GMO, organic, and free-range delicious turkey meat for a highly-prized turkey dinner!