Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spring Gobbler: Preseason

In just over 2 months the Spring Gobbler season will open here in PA.  The 2012 season was spotty for many of us due to the extraordinarily mild winter, and the incredibly early green-up.

So how can you make your 2013 campaign better?  Start today with a few easy little activities that will get you ready, and will get you pumped up to chase them Toms!

It's two months out so you can be pretty aggressive with your scouting, so don't be afraid to go knock on their bedroom doors.  Even if you bust a turkey or two they've got a long time to forget and forgive.  This is particularly useful if you can get out after one of our late winter snowfalls, and find some tracks.  Tracks are easy to see in the snow, and are a tremendous indicator of the size of the flock.  Using their own trails you can uncover a pattern of use, which you may have missed before.  Depending on how harsh the winter has been, you'll probably still find mixed flocks.  The young of 2012 haven't been run off yet, and the Toms intermix with the Hens, in order to make foraging easier for everyone.  As the weeks progress, the flocks will break up into males and females, and both will set their pecking order for the upcoming mating season.  Large boss Toms will assert their authority and position by challenging and sparring with other Toms.  The winner of these skirmishes will get priority on breeding rights.

Next, dust off those calls.  Whether you choose mouth calls, box calls, pot n peg calls, or any of the wide variety of turkey calls on the market, they all need to be reconditioned for the season.  Then practice practice practice.  Look up one of the many recordings of live turkey calls, available online, then use them to perfect your calling techniques.  Do some calling outside so that you learn what volume you need to break through the woods.  One note of caution here: I'm a firm believer that turkeys can and do learn the sound of calls.  Your call is like a hen's voice.  Just like in the wild each call, and each caller, will sound unique.  So if my goal in the season is to pretend to be a hen ready to mate, I want to be cautious of how often I use that call in the woods during the preseason.  How many times will that Tom try to find that certain hen he hears, before he gives up?

Finally, turkey hunters are notorious gear hounds.  Manufacturers make vests with dozens of pockets to carry a myriad of gear into the woods.  In the next several weeks the large catalogs will begin to feature their turkey gear.  Make sure you check it out, and replenish your vest as necessary.

Happy Hunting,
Scott M

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