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Some Thoughts on Spring Gobbler Hunting

Spring turkey hunting is upon us. The youth spring turkey hunt was on April 27th, and the statewide spring turkey hunt runs from May 4-31.

Bear in mind, however, that the legal hunting hours change midway through the season. From May 4-18, hunting begins one-half hour before sunrise and ends at noon; hunters should be out of the woods by 1 p.m. From May 20-31, hunting hours begin one-half hour before sunrise and end one-half hour after sunset.

A big step in the right direction, of course, is knowing where a gobbler or, better yet, gobblers are located. Some scouting beforehand can be very beneficial, but I like to be careful with my preseason scouting; I don’t want to stomp all over the locations I plan to hunt before the season opener.

To be honest, keeping a good eye out while driving in and around your hunting locations can tell you a lot. Over the past three weeks, I’ve observed at least a half dozen gobblers and several hens.

One gobbler, in particular, has been fanned out in the same spot in a field several mornings when I passed by with one hen nearby.

While preseason calling can also locate gobblers, it’s probably wise to limit the use of hen calls and resort to some other type of calling to get a response.

Knowing where turkeys are roosting can also be a big plus, but it’s best to keep a good distance so that your movements and any noise cannot be detected. All turkey hunters know that while turkeys may have a brain about the size of a small chestnut, their hearing and eyesight are extremely acute.

Keep in mind that during the earlier part of the season, leaf development is still somewhat limited, and turkeys will be able to detect any movement much quicker than later in the season when leaves block some of that movement.

Another thought that sometimes comes up with the turkey-hunting crowd is whether or not to use decoys. I’ve had success, but I’ve also had a gobbler turn and hustle away from my decoys. I had a hen decoy and a gobbler decoy, and I suspect the approaching gobbler may have had his butt kicked by another gobbler, and he took off when he saw my gobbler decoy. On the other hand, I had another occasion where I had a couple of hen decoys out, and three gobblers quickly closed in on them — one of them is now a mount.

What about the use of blinds? Remember, artificial blinds are legal, but the word “artificial” is critical. If you are going to use a blind, it must be artificial and consist of all manmade materials of sufficient density to block the detection of movement within the blind from an outside observer. Artificial blinds can be made of materials such as plastic, nylon, canvas, cotton cloth, plywood, or other manmade materials. Blinds made by piling up rocks, logs, or branches are not permitted. I have used artificial blinds on limited occasions, but most often, I like to get perched up against a large tree; it helps hide my movements and provides at least some protection from someone shooting behind me.

Well, these are some things to consider when getting into the spring turkey season, but certainly, proper calling techniques are also important. That’s another whole story; in fact, there are entire books covering that subject.