As you prepare for the upcoming spring season, you want to try and do everything you can to have the upper hand on that wise old gobbler. Knowing how turkeys act throughout the spring can give you that little extra edge that might find you filling your tag instead of going home empty-handed. In this article, I will break down the spring turkey hunting season into three parts: Early, Mid, and Late, and provide some tips and strategies for each.
An advantage that should be used during any time of the spring season is trying to roost birds in the evenings. It increases your chances of success greatly if you can get close to a bird before they fly down for the day. Most hunters turn to an Owl or Coyote Call to trigger a gobble from a roosted bird. Both sounds can cause a "shock gobble" to help you get a location of a bird and allow you to get a good game plan put together before the next morning's hunt.
So many factors come into play when it comes to the early season. Flocked-up birds or unpredictable weather can throw all sorts of curve balls your way. Here in the midwest, you need to be prepared for anything.
Having the ability to be able to do some scouting, whether that is in person or with the aid of trail cameras, will put you into the driver's seat and improve your chances that much more. Knowing the property, you are hunting is also a big advantage. I know guys that have been hunting the same property for 10+ years and therefore know the certain spots that produce year after year. These "go to" spots create great opportunities to use a ground blind and often are on field edges with a lot of visibility.
Decoys are a must for the early season. I know a lot of folks that love to use a strutting decoy along with a few hens in the early part of the year. If aggressive enough, Gobblers will not stand for another bird moving in on their hens. However, you will know pretty quickly if the birds you are after are not dominant enough to want to challenge a strutter. If you encounter this, it might be best to pull the strutter and switch to a Jake or even hen decoys.
When birds are flocked up, another great tactic is to try to aggravate and/or call in the boss hen of the group. If you can get her mad, she may just pull the whole flock right into your setup.
This time of year is my absolute favorite time of the season. The flocks are finally starting to break apart, and the first few hens will go to the the nest. This means that gobblers will start being in more of a search mode, thus much more callable. This is when I really like to use a single Jake decoy. Longbeards will not stand for a younger bird trying to move in on the hens in their area.
The woods are also starting to green up and develop a little more of an understory which helps in many ways. For one, you can hide easier when running and gunning. The other big bonus is that gobblers have to seek out the calls you are making now. In the early season, the woods are so open they can see a long way and pinpoint your calling. A little thicker foliage also means you can be a little more aggressive when making moves on birds. Be sure you don't stop mid-morning because the first few hours didn't work out as planned. If you can get a bird fired up mid-day, you better be ready because they will be coming on a string.
The woods are now green, the temps are high, and the days are long, but many hunters are still eager to pursue birds until the season concludes. The woods are so thick now that the birds favor very visible fields. Knowing which fields the birds you are chasing are frequenting the most can put you in the driver's seat.
One of the best tactics I have found is to be as mobile as possible. If you have the land to use, cover it best. If you don't have much to work with, try to find an area/field with a lot of turkey signs and set up in a blind. Blinds allow you to be more comfortable, and you can get away with much movement. If a blind is your only option, this is also a great time to get youth out and get them started in the outdoors. With it being a little warmer, they don't need to bundle up as much and can have games/activities to keep them preoccupied if things are slow.
In conclusion, understanding how turkeys behave throughout the spring season can give you an edge when hunting. Whether using decoys, aggravating the boss hen, or using a blind, these tips and strategies can help you fill your tag this spring.