Shake off the icicles and stow away the heavy winter coats, because spring is here! While many are itching for spring break, blooming flowers and rising mercury, hunters are gearing up for opening day!
1) Check Your Gear You may be “peckish” for the chance to get out and start hunting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your equipment is. A hunter can’t operate effectively if his gear isn’t ready or working correctly, so getting your gear in order before opening day should be the first step in preparing for the season. Always inspect and service your firearms and bows (you should already be practicing – we’ll get to that – and keep these ready to go at all times), as poorly maintained guns and bows could do more than let you down on the hunt – they could be dangerous. Check your gear for signs of wear and tear, and ensure all the components of your equipment is accounted for and serviceable. Perhaps the most important piece of gear that turkey hunters need to inspect are their mouth calls. If not properly cared for and stored, these calls can dry rot over the winter and may need to be replaced prior to the spring season. Need help building a gear list? Cabela’s put together a comprehensive list of the things you should have for your turkey hunt.
(Photo courtesy/Wide Open Spaces)
2) Practice Your Shooting Whether you’re bowhunting or using firearms, one of the best ways to prepare for the spring turkey season – or any season – is to train with your tools. Make time on the range to get shotgun practice in. If you’re looking for a new turkey shotgun, consider a 12-gauge with 3 to 3.5-inch shells, a barrel of 24 to 26 inches for maneuverability, a matte or camouflage finish, and a way to easily mount an optic. For bowhunters, practice is especially important, as turkeys can be difficult to take down with bows, and even harder to recover. Take the time to pattern test your shotguns to understand the capabilities (and limitations) of your guns using different chokes and loads.
(Photo courtesy/RealTree) 3) Scout Work Knowing where to find the birds is critical to your success in the field, unless you’re looking for an opportunity to catch a nice, long nap. Before opening day, take some time to canvas your hunting area. Look for the places turkey roost up at night and feed in the daytime. This way, you’re able to pick spots prime for intercepting them as they emerge from their slumber and make their way to breakfast. Scouting also helps you discover potential hazards that might exist in an area, like uneven terrain, bogs or other potential dangers that you may not notice when heading out in the dark during early mornings preparing for the day’s hunt.
(Photo courtesy/Field and Stream)
4) Work On Your Calls Like anything else, practice makes perfect (or at least better), so working on your turkey call before the season could help you bring in the birds. Our friends at RealTree produced a list of 10 reasons your calls might need some work – check it out, and set aside some time (preferably not in public) to fine tune your calls. Don’t wait until the morning of the hunt to practice your calls!
(Photo courtesy/Knight and Hale) 5) Be The “Early Bird” Okay, enough with the bird puns… Getting to your hunting spot early is always a great way to get ahead of your game. Get up and out before the turkeys do! Getting set up before darkness gives you time to set up undetected, get your decoys planted, and wait for the gobblers to emerge. Experienced hunters have little tricks up their sleeve, and know what feedback to look for to bring the birds closer, then it’s go-time.
These tips can lay the groundwork for the start of a great spring turkey hunting season! New to hunting and not sure where to begin, or tired of the same old sights year after year? NRA Outdoors offers turkey hunts across the country, helping gobbler chasers track Easterns, Goulds, Merriams, Osceolas, and Rio Grande turkeys in prime locations lead by expert guides! To find the turkey hunt of a lifetime perfect for you, check out this year’s upcoming hunts through NRA Outdoors here!