It’s never too early to start dreaming about chasing turkeys.
As deer season comes to a close in all but a few southern states, many hunters have already set their sights on the next big thing on the hunting calendar: The opening of spring turkey season.
Hearing those early morning gobbles is, for many hunters, a sign that the dreariness and isolation of winter is over, and it’s once again time to get outside and enjoy nature. What better way to celebrate the renewed hope that spring brings than by whacking a couple long beards?
Here are six things that you can start doing now that will help to put turkey on your table this spring.
1. Start calling at home.
There are two facts about turkey calling that every hunter needs to know. First, to be able to consistently kill turkeys you must be able to call. Period. The second is true for almost every turkey hunter: you’re probably not as good of a caller as you think.
Over the next few months, why not use your time to dust off those calls and make sure your turkey impression is up to snuff? While a few months of practice may drive everyone around you insane, it will definitely pay off once the toms start thundering.
2. Pack your vest.
While this may seem a bit premature, there’s a very good reason why now is the right time to get your gear together, pack it in your vest, then take it all out and pack it again.
Turkey huting, like all other types of hunting, requires toys. From calls, to ammo, to food and water, to bug repellent; there’s an enormous amount of gear that a successful hunter needs to take to the woods. By packing your gear now you can not only take inventory of what you do and do not have, but you can also cement in your mind where in your vest you keep certain things.
There’s nothing worse than spooking an incoming tom because you can’t remember which pocket you put something in.
3. Pattern your gun.
This is one step (other than calling) in getting ready for the opener that many hunters overlook from year to year; yet is perhaps the most important. Every turkey hunter needs to know, without a doubt, how there gun/load/choke combo performs at any given range.
Since you’ve got plenty of time, don’t be afraid to experiment a little bit with your ammo and choke tube selections. One load that I can’t want to try this spring is the new Longbeard XR from Winchester, available at Cabela’s.
In addition to trying new loads, if you’ve got buddies who shoot the same type of turkey gun you do, give their choke tubes a try (with their permission, of course). You may just find that magic combo that will decapitate a tom out to 75 yards. Although, I’d advise against it.
4. Set goals for the season.
Every hunter is looking for something different from their season, and a surefire way to be disappointed is to walk into the woods without having a clear idea of what you hope to achieve.
Maybe this year you’d like to introduce someone to turkey hunting for the first time, or hunt a new state, or hunt with a friend and shoot a double. Maybe you just want to simply tag out. Whatever it may be, put some thought to what you want from the season, then put it in writing.
If you don’t kill a turkey but that youngster you took hunting for the first time did, you can still say that you had a successful season.
5. Don’t put your bow away quite yet.
Chasing turkeys is an incredibly difficult thing to do, even with the power and range that modern shotgun loads have to offer. If you want a new level of difficulty, however, try to take a turkey with your archery rig.
Taking turkeys with a bow is, in many ways, more difficult than using one to harvest deer. The “kill zone” on a turkey is about the size of a grapefruit, and you have to be able to consistently hit it while sitting, crouching, or even kneeling. Many hunters also use a broadhead with a larger cutting diameter, so being able to kill a turkey with a bow takes a ton of setup and practice.
But wouldn’t it be worth it?
6. Call some more.
This can’t be stated strongly enough; no matter how good of a caller you are, there’s always room to improve.
Start practicing now, and your odds of spring success go up dramatically. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends to listen and critique your skills, or to watch a turkey calling competition and try to imitate what you hear.
The better your calling, the more likely you are to fulfill your turkey season goals.
These are just six ways that you can get ready to chase spring gobblers now, but there are surely more. Instead of waiting until it’s too late, why not use this winter lull to help ensure your success?
Just be careful; while dusting of your gear, getting your gun tuned up and fine-tuning your calling, all that cuttin’ and cacklin’ may drive your significant other crazy.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
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