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Opening Day Preperation


Across most of the Carolina’s and Georgia April means turkey season. Many of these areas have the opening of the spring turkey season and hunters are fast in preparation to make good on an old debt.

Spring turkey hunting is very different than any other type of hunting. First, the season of the year is a respite from a long layoff of a season without hunting. Second, the approach to calling and killing turkeys is very different from other types of hunting we have done. The spring season coincides with the mating season for turkeys and the gobbling activity is usually at its peak during the season. Hunting them during the breeding season can be more productive than other times of the year but it is certainly no slam dunk to kill a wild turkey.

Preparing for opening day is not a lot different than the opening of other seasons. We have scouted and found likely locations where the birds are roosting and this gives us an idea of where to begin. We have patterned our shotguns, practiced with our calls, dusted off the decoys and are not ready to go and hunt for them. But we need a plan.

As with most hunters who have participated in the folly of hunting turkeys, I can attest that of the hundreds of turkeys I have brought to the gun, less than one percent have gone according to plan. But that doesn’t prevent me from forming an opening day plan as a starting place just in case it happens to work out.

A few years ago, probably longer than I care to try and remember, I had the picture perfect hunt. The afternoon before opening day I was doing some last minute scouting when I saw a flock of birds in a pasture I had permission to hunt. I fell to the ground and watched as the birds fed into the woods. Making a mental note of their location, I vowed to return the following morning to the very spot I last saw the turkeys enter the wood line. As fate would have it, I kept my end of the bargain. Arriving a full hour and an half before daylight, I crept through the edge of the pasture to the very tree they passed as the entered the woods the afternoon before. Squaring against a large pine tree I sat and waited for the sun the rise and the woods to awaken. As sun began to brighten the day, Ole Tom could not resist the temptation to announce his presence. Much to my surprise I had set up less than sixty yards from his roost. For the next fifteen minutes I sat and listened as he awoke the forest. Readying myself I eased out my M.L. Lynch double sided world Champion box call and made three small clucks. As I finished the last one, ole Tom pitched from his roost to within fifteen yards and immediately went into full strut. As he stood from his strut, my Remington broke the morning silence and the hunt was over.

Granted, these hunts are few and far between. In fact, I can remember only a handful that have occurred like this since my first turkey hunt when I was still in high school some thirty three years ago. To ensure your hunt at least start well, plan to be in the right place when the sun gets up.

My opening day plans begin with a morning approach before fly down and mid-morning approach followed by a mid-day and lastly an afternoon approach. Each of these are unique to the time of day and the turkey and how they respond during the different phases of the day. The rest of the plan, is simple – be adaptable and flexible. It works out great when the birds cooperate. We set up and never have to move, the birds come into our seductive calling eventually we finish the day with a long bearded tom draped over our shoulder.

Granted, for the turkey hunter, making plans can be an act of futility, but it gives us a starting place. As you prepare for opening day,  now is the time to set your plan and be ready to start the season off on a good note.