By Bob Humphrey
It’s transition time. Deer hunters have gone through their post-season withdrawal and their psyches suddenly switch. Even in the far north, the days are getting longer and thoughts shift to spring, and the coming turkey season. Even if the season on home turf is still several months away, many serious turkey hunters will make a southern sojourn for some “spring training.”
The first step is travel plans. Alabama, Florida and South Carolina all have seasons starting in March - all great destinations to get away from the cold, even if only for a week. Once April comes things really open up across the South, then the Midwest and West.
The next step involves equipment. If you’ve been at this game long enough, you can’t honestly say you need anything new. But need’s got nothing to do with it. Every year there’s all manner of new gear designed to make for a better hunt. Old, and still useful gear will be relegated to overflowing storage bins as it’s replaced with the latest and greatest calls, decoys and turkey loads.
It’s also a good time to get all that stuff out and make sure everything is in working order. You may need replacement parts or repairs that could take some time. If you wait too long, you may not have it in time for the long-awaited opening day, especially if you’re traveling south for an early opener.
The third phase involves a combination of scouting and practicing. As the season draws closer it’s time to get out, drive the back roads, bike, truck or ATV, and hike the backwoods to locate and assess this year’s crop. Get out at dawn and listen, and don’t overlook midmorning, afternoon and dusk. If you’re daybreak hunt doesn’t produce it’s good to have options; and dusk will tell you where the birds go to roost.
Meanwhile, chalk up the box calls, sand slates and break in new diaphragms. And practice. The more and longer you practice the more proficient you become with your calls. Combine scouting and practice by listening to real birds, and trying to imitate them. There’s no better teacher.