Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Study Turkey Kill Data Now

Your four Yamaha wheels can put you into turkeys you’ve planned to hunt months before.

Your four Yamaha wheels can put you into turkeys you’ve planned to hunt months before.

By Steve Hickoff

It’s not too early to start planning spring turkey hunts.

1. State wildlife agencies post turkey kill reports where it’s required for a hunter to register a bird. Maybe your state does too. Here in northern New England, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont all do. I hunt them all. As a result, I study town and kill numbers routinely.

2. Doing so helps me lock into areas where kill numbers are consistently high each season. I plot trends, study public land features, contact people I know in such areas (and those I don’t). This allows me to scout without even being there.

3. Now while it’s true some guys might register gobblers under the veil of secrecy, fibbing the town of kill to protect their spots, I think many of us are proud of the land we hunt, and where we take a bird. We register honestly. The kill data reflects this.

4. How can you use it? Keep manila hard-copy folders or computer files on annual turkey kill data. In the off-season (and especially pre-season) you can study new town locations where registration numbers are high. County data also reflects trends. Use it to hunt better on the road.

5. Talk to biologists and landowners too. Book those hunts. Think ahead and lock in dates.

Why bother? A few spring gobbler seasons ago, I drove just over two hours to cross the Vermont border a little after Opening Day fly-down time. I’d studied state turkey kill numbers that winter as usual, and picked a public land spot to stake my claim. Not long after arriving, I located three birds (two gobblers and a hen), and moved on them. They spooked at my rushed approach.

No matter. I settled in, let the woods calm down. I offered some calls, and waited; waited a bit more. Suddenly, a dark movement, and the turkeys—first the hen, then the trailing gobbler duo—worked to my position. I dropped the nearest gobbler, checked the turkey, drove two-plus-hours, and made it home just after noon.

It’s not the first time ...

Plan your 2012 spring turkey hunts now while you have the time; it may be too late later.