Spring, though you may not believe it, is right around the corner. That means growing vegetation, melting snow and even more hunting opportunities. The most notable hunting season up and coming, especially for those diehards out there, is the spring turkey hunt.
But spring turkeys require more finesse than a simple run and gun technique like fall turkeys often fall victim to. Instead, hunters have to usually hit the woods early and wait for the morning light to start. Once a tom turkey roars out, the hunt begins.
But the key to hunting spring turkeys, especially in areas that do not offer a large population, is scouting. Do not just pick one area, either. Find where the turkeys are roosting in the winter months. That is where they are likely going to be before the green starts sprouting, especially in areas that have a season starting fairly early, like Maine's May season (April for the youth hunt).
To help in the scouting, employ that device that is becoming so well known to hunters: The trail camera. While many sportsmen might think that these cameras were designed for scouting deer and bear. Sure. But they are also great for smaller animals, especially those that travel in groups.
Not to mention, though a slight digress, that these trail cameras are being used for nature and wildlife photography, and quite successfully. Once you know where you are going, it is important to be prepared to go.
What is the best way to prepare? Practice, practice and more practice. Shooting is just part of it. You need to practice firing from standing and resting positions. You need to practice moving quietly in the woods, even in the dark. You need to work on your turkey calls, which are incredibly important during spring hunts, unless you know where your tom is going, you are going to have to lure him to where you are.
And speaking of calling a turkey, remember that when you are out in the woods, it is important not to rush the experience. If you hear a tom gobble in the distance, do not just try to race over the next 100 yards and try to get a bead on him. Instead, be patient. Move 25 to 50 yards at a time and wait.
Call and see if the tom responds to you. It is always best to be in control of the situation, having the tom looking for his rival rather than having you burst into view (turkeys have amazingly good vision and hearing).
Also remember that many toms will come into an area that you are calling but do so without letting their presence be known. This is doubly true if there is a lot of hunting pressure. Turkeys are not dumb. The reason toms live long enough to become dominant is because they have avoided a shotgun blast until this point in their lives.
While you are out hunting and you are finding that you are not getting much success convincing turkeys to come within shooting range, try changing the time that you come. Weekday hunting is often more successful because of the reduced pressure and a lack of hunters in the woods as compared to the weekend.
When the season finally does arrive, do what we here at Northeast Hunting always suggest: Be courteous to other hunters in the woods. Do not stalk up on another hunter who is working a tom. Frequent and repeated gobbling is typically a sign of a hunter and not a tom. Interfering with other hunters is not only unsportsmanlike, it is also incredibly dangerous.
And, of course, be careful. While turkey season usually tends to not find many hunters wearing blaze orange, it is best to not dress in any kind of red, white or blue. These are colors of a turkey that could draw unwanted attention from a careless hunter and their shotgun.
Spring turkey hunting can be an extremely enjoyable season, despite it often feeling more like winter in the early weeks than spring. Just keep in mind that a patient hunter is quite often a successful hunter.