- April 25, 2018
When it comes to upping your chances for success in the spring gobbler season, there are several things to keep in mind that will help fill your tag and make the season even more memorable.
Spend time scouting. Scouting prior to the spring gobbler season is just as important as doing your homework before the season for any other game. Hike logging roads, and inspect any food plots or openings for scratching, droppings, or dropped feathers. Pay particular attention under oak, beech, cherry or maple trees as well as grape vines for recent feeding activity. Placing trail cameras along logging roads or at log landings or food plots might reveal the presence of turkeys and help in patterning their activity. Try to avoid the temptation of calling to turkeys while you are scouting. There is a great risk in “educating” the birds to your calling. If you must, only use a locator call, such as a peacock call or a coyote call to shock a bird into gobbling — then be very careful not to let the bird see you! Preferably, use your eyes and ears and not any calls at all.
In the spring season, numerous hunters like to use a method of hunting known as the “run and gun.” Here, a hunter enters the woods, hikes to a likely spot and makes several calls. If nothing responds, the hunter quickly relocates several hundred yards away and calls again — repeating the process until a responsive gobbler answers his calling. You can cover a lot of territory this way, yet there is a rather large “BUT.” Not all gobblers respond immediately and some will never call back to you at all, but will instead slowly sneak in to locate where your calls are coming from. This is particularly true in the later weeks of the season and they are becoming more wary to calls. All too frequently, a “run and gun” hunter will make a call, hear nothing and move on too quickly — spooking an incoming silent gobbler in the process. You can reduce the risk of this happening by waiting 20 to 30 minutes after your last call before moving on. Devote your time to keeping a watchful eye for a silent gobbler sneaking in to find his lost love!
If you locate a frequently used feeding area, consider placing a two or three-man blind nearby. Using a blind is particularly useful if you have a fidgety hunting partner or are planning on taking a young hunter with you. Having a blind or two set up will give you a place to spend time on those all-too-frequent rainy spring days. If you are planning on “running and gunning,” there is a three panel ground blind that you can set up quickly to help conceal your presence.
Using decoys can be beneficial, particularly when hunting from a ground blind. In the springtime, I like using a jake decoy and two hen decoys. Place one hen decoy on the ground in the “receptive to breeding” position with the jake decoy standing just behind her. Then, place the other hen decoy standing alert about 10 yards away. An approaching gobbler will likely spot the alert hen first, then once seeing the jake decoy will come in to challenge him.
If you are fortunate enough to have a place or two to hunt that is on private land, make sure you treat the landowner with respect. Check in with him well before the season — not the day before — and let him know you would still appreciate his permission to hunt there. Ask him if there is any wood to split or projects around the property that you could help him complete. Make sure you verify where he would like you to park and let him know ahead of time when you hope to hunt there. When you are checking in with him prior to the season, it never hurts to show up with a homemade pie or a box of chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven! Treat him with respect and, who knows? He just might invite you back this fall to hunt that giant whitetail buck you captured on your trail camera!