Ok, I’ve got to admit I’ve been looking forward to spring turkey season, but the
feeling barely rated a tingle and was certainly nothing close to an itch yet. The
other night driving home from Hutchinson, I took a back road I knew in the past
was home to a nice group of turkeys each spring and a big group each winter.
Sure enough there they were, strung out over a couple hundred yards of wheat
field. There were easily a hundred birds, and a few toms were polishing up their
moves and beginning to form their harems. I scratched all the way home, so now
I’m officially itchin’ for spring turkey season to start. This morning I stood in the
parking lot at my job noticing the sparse tint of frost on the roof tops, feeling the
slight nip in the air, and hearing the robins twittering, all reminding me of early
morning turkey hunts.
I’m not a real seasoned turkey hunter, but I have learned a thing or two, mostly
by mistake, about the pursuit of Kansas gobblers. A tried-and-true way of putting
yourself on turkeys at first light is to be set up to call them as they leave the roost
in the morning. You need to be close, but not too close and you need to be able
to get there without being seen or heard by the still-roosted birds. More than
once I’ve set up in the morning where I saw birds late the night before and
assumed I knew where they roosted, only to be scared spitless the next morning
when a big tom gobbled much too near to me in the dark. My error was in not
knowing for certain where they roosted and assuming I could come close enough.
So if calling birds as they leave the roost in the morning is your game, either stick
around long enough the night before or come back after dark and do some coyote
howls or owl hoots to know for sure where they are.
Another thing I’ve learned is not to give up too easily on birds you spook. Once
spooked, you will probably not get a shot at those birds anymore that day where
you happen to spook them, but quietly leave and get set up somewhere ahead of
them and the game is still on. A few years ago I built a blind out of brush the
landowner had cut at the end of a field a couple hundred yards from where I
knew a small group of turkeys was roosting. What I hadn’t planned for was the
couple lone jakes roosting by themselves just a short distance from my blind.
After they had called my bluff, and the group I knew about had shunned me too, I
set up again along a creek just around the corner of the same wooded pasture
and started calling. The two jakes that had busted me came running
enthusiastically and probably would have run over me had I not shot the first one.
Despite what the pros might say, turkey calling does not have to be precise and
flawless either. Yes it’s good to know enough that your calls are not screaming
bad things about a gobbler’s mother, but in my opinion it’s much more important
to be in the right spot and to be well camouflaged, quiet and still.
Spring turkey season in Kansas runs from April 15 through the end of May for
shotgun and archery; from April 1-14 for youth/disabled hunters and from April 6-
14 for archery only; that’s a long time. In my mind there is no excuse not to buy a
spring turkey permit for $22.50 and hit the woods. If you’re new to turkey
hunting, attend a seminar or find an experienced hunter to take you along and
experience that sickness known as spring wild turkey hunting as you Explore
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]