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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Turkey season rapidly approaching; still time for some planning

Find a hen turkey in the spring, and a tom probably is nearby.
(photo courtesy NWTF)

Turkey season opens in a couple of weeks, so time is running short to prepare to bag a tom.
Opening day is April 22 in Indiana ,and the spring season runs through May 10. Youth turkey hunt weekend is April 18-19. Across the Ohio, opening day is April 18 in Kentucky, and the spring season also runs through May 10. 
A hunter can get lucky and take a bird almost by accident, but planning is a key to success. 
One morning, years ago, when I headed to the woods with my friend Phil Kirby, 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.
“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 the season opens, learning the lay of the land and where the birds frequent.
“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
“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 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.
Prior to the start of hunting season, many hunters head to the range, set up a turkey target at 40 yards, pull the trigger and are satisfied that their pattern is more than adequate. So they put their shotgun back in its case until opening morning. That can be a mistake.
One long-time hunter said, “I can't tell you how many birds I've seen missed, not because a hunter was shooting at a bird at the limit of his range, but because it was too close. That's right, too close.”
With today's choke tube offerings and tight-patterning turkey loads, the shot that covers a pie plate at 30 or 40 yards can be smaller than your fist at just 10 or 15 yards. 
If you shoot a little to the right or the left of a gobbler's head and all you're going to see is flapping wings and tail feathers as that old' tom takes flight.
Be ready for any approach by a wary longbeard this spring. Know how your gun patterns at 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards by practicing on targets at those ranges before the season. Then, you'll be prepared to take the proper shot. Remember, you don't have to shoot. He'll be there again for another try.

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