Spring is (almost) in the air, and in hunting circles, that means one thing: spring turkey hunting.
To celebrate the forthcoming season, we've put together seven tips you can use to become a more successful turkey hunter.
From preparative steps to methods for setting up your hunt, all the way to the moment you pull the trigger, this guide should take you through the basics of any spring turkey trot.
View the slideshow before spring turkey hunting season starts.
1. Practice your calls
If you are planning on doing your own gobbles, clucks, and other calls this season, you best be practicing. If you've been hunting any game for an appreciable amount of time, then you already know that making realistic animal calls with your mouth and vocal cords is a lot easier said than done. This truth extends to turkey hunting, so practice your calls until they drive you, your friends, and your family crazy. Listen repeatedly to call sounds online or watch instructional videos about how to master calls.
In addition, make sure you record yourself before you take your calls out into the field. Arguably the most challenging part of any vocal activity is that the sounds you are making always sound different inside your head than they do to everyone else. If you can't get your recordings to match what you are hearing from real bird recordings, invest in a few mouth or box calls, and pay attention to the next tip.
2. Spice it up with different kinds of calls
If you find that making turkey sounds with your vocal cords is just not an ability you have, there's no shame in that whatsoever. The market is flush with great box calls, slate calls, push button calls, diaphragm calls, and more, and all of them are more than capable of producing just about every turkey sound you could imagine.
RELATED: 10 Turkey Calls You Need to Try
However, make sure to practice with these calls head of time so that you can learn how to get the richest and most powerful sound out of each. All calls are slightly different, and some hunters find they have a preference for the sound of one type over the others. If you are going to be doing an appreciable amount of turkey calling, learning the nuances of each call type is definitely a worthwhile task.
3. Scout your property like a pro
As with any other form of hunting, a successful spring turkey hunt is built on the foundation of preparation. Before the season rolls around, make sure to get out to your key turkey hunting properties and scout. Try to pinpoint roosting areas and feeding spots and take stock of the routes your turkeys follow to get from point A to point B.
RELATED: "Super Stocking" Turkeys in Texas
In essence, just do what you would do for deer, always taking note of heavy turkey activity spots, and always doing as much scouting as possible from a distance. A high-quality pair of binoculars or a trail camera will pay dividends here, because you don't want to get too close and scare them from the area.
4. Shoot your gun, duh
Which gun have you been taking to the shooting range this winter? If your answer was "my turkey gun," you're certainly in the minority. For how much time and money a lot of us put into finding the perfect turkey gun, it's remarkable how little use it sees.
To be fair, deer hunting is a higher stakes activity and is thus where we want to put forth our best marksmanship. With that said though, if you try to head out the door to hunt spring turkeys with a gun you haven't used in a year, you're going to fail.
Find some time in the coming weeks to practice with your turkey gun and get reacquainted. Shoot clay birds and targets; shoot from different positions; shoot in the clothing you plan on wearing for your hunt. By taking all of these preparations, you will improve your chances of accuracy and boost the number of birds coming home in your game bag or vest.
5. Layer on the camouflage, then put on some more
Once the warm weather rolls in, just about the last thing you're going to want to do is crawl into a bunch of heavy camouflage clothing. However, just because the word "spring" is in the title of the activity, that doesn't mean spring turkey hunting is a time for you to lose the camouflage and show some skin.
Turkeys don't care much what time of year it is, and they've got sharp eyes that will spot you from a long way off if you're not careful. Most turkey hunters recommend full camouflage, a face mask, and even camo on the rifle for maximum concealment.
6. Set aside evening hours
The most successful turkey hunters - and the ones who most enjoy the experience of the spring turkey hunt - know that both evening hunts and morning hunts are important, but for entirely different reasons. The goal of an evening hunt is primarily to find out where turkeys are roosting for the night. As the last of the daylight vanishes, you will be able to hear turkeys cackling as they head up to their roosts. Don't shoot anything at night; you're only there to observe and gather information for your actual hunt the next morning.
7. Prey on the morning crowd
Speaking of the next morning, that's when the action will occur. Take note of the trees where turkeys were roosting at night, then return to those trees the next morning shortly before sunrise. Just as you heard the last turkey sounds of the night as daylight was fading away, you should start making your turkey calls as sunlight starts to wash across the property.
A few light hen calls should be enough to get the male turkeys in the roost tree interested. Listen for a gobbler calling back to you, then keep calling until he decides to come down out of the roost to see what all the fuss is about. Once he's in sight, take your shot. You might also consider placing some hen decoys near your position to further distract the gobbler and keep him from spotting your location as he waddles your way.