Turkey season is less than a month away. If you’re like me, you have a limited time to hunt, trying to fill your tags on a weekend or the occasional day off work. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter, or this is your first year chasing longbeards, doing these 3 things right now can help you be prepared for opening day.
Check Your Gear - Get it together in one spot
Now is the time you should be dragging out your gear, taking stock of what you have & what you still need (or, let’s be honest, want). I like to keep everything together as much as possible, which makes this step easier, but it’s even more necessary if you have gear that splits time between different seasons. If you don’t already have one, get a pack; you don’t want to be hunting down gear the night before you’re supposed to be hunting down turkeys. I’m a vest guy myself, but if a backpack is more your style, go for it; it’s more about having a place to stash your gear than any particular style. What am I making sure I have? Regardless of whether I’m going to hunt with a bow or gun, this is what I’m looking for:
Gloves & some sort of face covering - you’ve got to hide your movement if you want to consistently get turkeys in range.
Calls & call accessories (turkey calls, locator calls, strikers, chalk, etc.) See more in tip #2.
Ammo - I’m in a 1-bird/day state & I still like to carry 6 rounds on me, you know, just in case…
Headlamp - it’s easier to get in close to birds in the roost the earlier you show up. I’ve actually set up against a roost tree (Unknowingly. I don’t usually try to get that close) by getting in early & being prepared. More on that in tip #3.
Toilet paper...I probably should have listed that one #2, huh?
A short collapsible stool or additional thick pad to get my vest pad and butt up off the roots, sticks, rocks & clods that cause turkey-spooking wiggling.
A small scale and tape measure - there have been a few birds I would have had mounted had I handled them better in the field knowing how large they were.
A clip-on padded gun rest that goes over your knee.
I’ll add other items as season approaches, such as a bottle of water, a battery pack & camera, but these are the items I can’t hunt without.
If you’re the type who uses decoys or hunts from a portable blind, now is also the time to drag them out, set them up, & make sure you have everything you thought you had for them before you hunt.
Get the calls you’ll be hunting with and start practicing
I mentioned calls. Now is the time to refresh or restock your calls. I carry 2 pot calls with 2 strikers, a box call, & 3-5 diaphragm calls in addition to an owl hooter and crow call when I need to use a locator. I love my pot calls but tend to rely most heavily on diaphragm calls. Because I mostly work birds on diaphragms, & I’m an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” type, I find I wear them out after 2-3 seasons. Even with my old faithful calls, I like to have a month to get them back out & start putting them through their paces & working them through the different types of calls I’ll make & re-familiarizing myself with what each call is capable of & how it likes to be worked. This helps me identify which calls have yelped their last yelp and get them replaced. A month also gives me time to order new calls from a custom callmaker without being that jerk who needs something in a rush during their busiest time of year, or have my pick of the retail calls available without scrambling to find something “close enough”. One last thought on this subject: calls sound a lot different outside; practice outside.
One of the great things about turkeys is once you’ve found them in a particular area, barring any major kill offs or changes that impact their landscape, you can usually find them in that same general area each year. Start looking for turkeys where you’ve found them last year. Winter flocks will break up and spread out by the start of many seasons but they don’t typically leave an area altogether - they’re in that area because it provides them with everything they need - & this time of year, the woods allow you to really see what the landscape looks like that you can’t see after green-up. Once you know an area holds turkeys (which is the number 1 requirement for consistent success), you need to start trying to narrow in on where they will be when you are hunting them. In my home state, we can only hunt until 1 PM. Seeing birds in the afternoon lets me know I’m on the right track, but it doesn’t help me know where to set up in the mornings. There are a few spots we’ve found hold at least a small number of birds during season each year so this is also a great time to get into those areas, make sure nothing much has changed that could have pushed the birds out (logging, fire, storm damage, building, etc.), & prep a few spots to set up come season so you’re not stumbling around, making a bunch of noise trying to do it in the dark - by the light of the headlamp you made sure was in your pack to help you get in that spot long before the turkeys start waking up.
Spend your preseason making sure your gear is together, your calls are in good shape & sound how you expect them to, and you’ve got a few spots to focus your efforts on & you’ll be better prepared to make the most of your limited hunting time this season.
Check out the Landgea webstore for the turkey hunting gear that will help make you more effective this season.
You can also listen to this blog in a podcast format here: https://thenemophilist.buzzsprout.com/
Get outside & enjoy the outdoors.
Logan Chartrand, The Nemophilist
Logan is the host of podcast The Nemophilist. Helping others (re)discover the outdoors, The Nemophilist shares the stories, experiences, traditions, & opinions on hot topics of those who love being outside. You can find The Nemophilist on your favorite podcast apps & follow Logan’s adventures on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter (the.nemophilist.lc), or on Clubhouse (the.nemophilist).