Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Turkeys Plus

Don’t get caught in a turkey hunting rut this spring. Fill up the slow times and break up the monotony with a change of pace.

By Bob Humphrey 

Several years back my son and I set out intent on a morning of turkey hunting.  However, it soon became apparent it was one of those days when the action would die quickly; high pressure, clear as a bell, no wind and temperatures already unseasonably high.  Even the roost gobbling was minimal, and once the birds hit the ground they went silent. We could have grinded it out in hopes of shocking a random gobble, or camped out on the chance a stray bird might wander by.  But days afield should be fun, and are not to be squandered.  “Let’s go fishing,” I told him; and so we did. 

Turkey hunters tend to be rather intense, and as a result are often quite focused.  But it’s possible to get so focused you miss the big picture.  There’s plenty more to do instead of, or in addition to turkey hunting in the spring. 

FISHING

Turkey season is also fishing season and there are countless opportunities, depending on where you live and hunt, and fish. 

There’s an old saying in the south that turkeys gobble when the redbud blooms.  That’s also when the crappie bite.  Live bait or jigs work well and this tasty fish provide a nice compliment to a baked turkey breast. 

Up north, they gobble when the shadbush blooms.  And it’s called shadbush because it blooms when the shad run.  Dubbed a poor man’s salmon, these anadromous fish run upriver from the sea each spring to spawn, providing a bountiful fishing opportunity.  You’ll want fairly heavy tackle for tossing jigs or darts cross-current. 

Turkey season often coincides with the spawning season for bass.  Hawg bucketmouths can get quite aggressive defending their spawning redds, providing some of the season’s best bassin’.  No need to be delicate now.  Drag the loudest, gawdiest thing you can on across the flats and hold your rod tightly. 

Trout fishing is also at its best in the spring, before the waters warm up.  Hunt in the morning and fish the last hour or two, when fish rise to the surface to feed on hatching insects.
Match the hatch with dry flies or emergers.

HUNTING

Speaking of Hawgs/hogs, their open season usually coincides with spring turkey season.  Like most game animals, they’re most active at dawn and dusk.  Most hunters save the morning for turkeys and use the afternoons for hogs.  Tag out early and you can focus all your attention on the piggies.  Many hunters sit over feeders, food plots or agricultural fields, but hogs also make for great spot-and-stalk hunting.

Porkers aren’t the only hogs you can chase in the spring.  As soon as the grass greens up, groundhogs are out in force.  Even better, they can be hunted throughout the day, giving you an option to fill the mid-day lull.  The most popular method is long-range shooting from a fixed position, but bowhunters might enjoy some challenging spot-and-stalk hunting.  Farmers raising livestock despise them so culling their numbers could improve your stock with a grateful landowner, possibly allowing you to earn greater access for things like turkey and deer hunting.

CHANGE IT UP

These are but a few examples and there are plenty more regardless of where you live and hunt.  Don’t get stuck in a turkey hunting rut this spring.  Whether conditions aren’t right, the bird’s aren’t cooperating or you just need a break from the grind of turkey hunting, think outside the ground blind and try a little change of pace.