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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Planning can improve chances for taking a turkey opening day

Although turkey season is a month away, there is plenty to do prior to opening morning. The better the planning, the better the chances of taking a tom.
Sure, someone can get lucky and take a bird almost by accident, but planning is a key to success. 
One morning when I headed to the woods with my friend Phil Kirby a number of years ago, he accidentally slammed the truck door when we arrived near our planned hunting spot. It caused a tom to gobble, and Phil shot it a couple minutes later. But, that’s a rare exception,
The National Wild Turkey Federation has several suggestions for increasing your chances on opening morning.
Indiana’s turkey season opens April 24 and runs through May 12. The opening youth weekend is April 20-21.
The first step towards enjoying a successful spring hunt is to find a place to hunt,” according to NWTF. “Your state or provincial wildlife agency can help you identify public hunting land.
“If you plan to hunt private land, make sure you get the landowner's permission before hunting or scouting.
Wherever you decide to hunt, make the most of your time afield by spending time before your season opens learning the lay of the land and where the birds like to be.
“Once you pinpoint were the birds roost and where they head during the day to feed, plan a strategy that puts you along their travel routes”
Prior to the opener, the Turkey Federation recommends heading to the range to test your shotgun to make sure you're shooting a tight, dense pattern. “Learning how to accurately judge number of yards, and making sure your turkey load performs well at different distances can mean the difference in bagging a bird and watching one sail off into the woods.
“Practice calling. Communicating with a wild turkey to work it to the gun is a thrilling experience. Today's market offers a variety of calls — everything from mouth calls to box calls to pot and peg calls and more.”
Calling takes practice. If you aren’t experienced with mouth calls, a box call may be the easiest to learn in a short amount of time. Slate calls also can be learned rather quickly, but it takes time to perfect any of them. But, then a truck door slamming sometimes can excite a tom in mating season.
Turkey hunting can be quite physical. It’s important for the hunter to be ready. Often turkey hunting in this part of the country requires considerable walking up and down hills, if a turkey isn’t spotted early morning.
“Hunters spend months and sometimes years planning their dream trips, all the while never thinking about the physical excursions the hunt might require. Poor fitness and undiagnosed health problems can combine into a disaster. 
The NWTF goes so far as to recommend visiting your doctor to ensure you're healthy enough for the trip, and then start training. 
“Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, and is often required when pursuing wild turkeys.”
When I used to hunt in Missouri with my friend Carl Hunter, we not only walked into the woods well before daylight, must hunts would involve considerable walking up and down the Lake of the Ozarks terrain, if we didn’t attract a bird early. Carl had retired as a track coach, and it felt as though my tongue was dragging the ground by midmorning.
 Exercise, planning and proper equipment preparation can help make it your best ever.

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