Spring Turkey Season 2021
Each turkey season often begins in the same fashion. Start laying out your gear, checking out your decoys, test out some clucks on your favorite call, swap in the turkey choke - all while thinking about the sun coming up, and that first gobble making the hair on your neck stand up. Only this year, we will skip patterning our guns because turkey loads are nearly impossible to find. WTH.
You'll hear some say "you don't need to scout; turkeys are dumb birds". OK - it is possible to get lucky and stumble into the right area. However, scouting and patterning birds is always the best way to not waste those early mornings getting skunked. This usually involves listening and glassing from roads or ridges in the morning and late afternoon glassing and roosting birds. We know turkeys tend to be out and visible at dawn, midmorning and evenings. The dominant toms are strutting in full view, hoping to tempt a hen but also easily exposing their positions to someone scouting for that fan.
Arguably, the second most important part of ensuring you have consistent action in your turkey pursuit is roosting. After a day of feeding, turkey’s attention turns to finding a safe place to spend the night up in a tree. If you have scouted a bird an hour or less before dark, there is a good chance you now have a general idea where they will be in the morning. If you are scouting in a wooded area, be listening for the sound of their wings beating and breaking some small branches as they flap their 20-pound bodies up into their roost. If mostly listening for birds roosting is your goal, but all you have heard is silence, you can spout out a series of owl hoots or crow sounds in chances you get the bird to shock gobble.
If you are hunting in thick spring foliage with very limited visibility, you may find a decoy is not optimal as a gobbler could get hung up 40-50 years out with a chance to really look it over and decide to move on without you getting a shot. However, typical turkey hunters are going to be in or near more open spaces where you will want to use a decoy to attract an audience. There are too many decoy strategies to list, but one thing we know is they work.
It seems older generations grew up with no or minimal decoy use and that was likely because older turkey decoys were simply not available or realistic. Fortunately, that is strictly a thing of the past. At Duck Candy Outdoors, we offer all types and styles of decoys, including toms, jakes, and hens of almost any configuration you can imagine. There are full-body foam turkey decoys that are budget-oriented and would fool a tom from far across a field. Our more popular are collapsible plastic or rubber ones that are extremely lifelike with feathers and eyes that could easily fool a hunter themselves.
Regardless of the decoys your choose, be sure you don’t put them up at the outer edge of your shotgun range. If a wary bird hangs up past your decoys, it will be out of range. Instead, set them up around 20 yards so you still have shot if they stall. Another option is to set them up past you in hopes a gobbler would have to walk right by your location, bringing them within range.
Entire books have been written on turkey calling, so we’ll just leave you with this – less is more. Turkeys have tremendous eyesight, and their hearing is excellent. If you overcall a bird, they will have you pegged and come in looking right at you. A good rule of thumb is if a bird is 100 yards or less, back off, so they don’t pin you down and put the brakes on.
Looking towards opening day, you could analyze a million different strategies. However, it always comes down to putting in time in the woods. The most experienced hunters make mistakes and move or do not move, call too much or too little, get too close to the roosting tree, and so on. At the end of the hunt, the pursuit can still be worthwhile if you don’t tag a bird. One thing is for certain - getting out of the house, surrounding yourself with good comradery and listening for gobblers is never a bad time.