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Opening Day Turkeys


Opening day of the 2017 turkey season is promising to be a new adventure. For the first time in recent memory, there will be a state wide opening day for all private lands. March 20th is the earliest the turkey season has ever opened in most of the state. While, in the low country, it is actually five days later than its traditional start date. However, the season will also run six days longer, ending on May 5th.

This new start date has a lot of hunters excited at the notion of getting into the woods a full week earlier than previously. However, the unusually warm winter and spring means that we are just not sure what will be happening with the birds when season rolls around.

The advent of opening day brings hours of anticipation. Hunters have been preparing for eleven months for the wakening gobble of opening day. There is something about the first gobble of the year to start things off the way we hoped in our dreams.

In recent years, my opening days have been filled with silence. Old mature toms seem to know that ‘today is the day’ and they better keep it quiet. A few seasons ago, I was into my third week before I heard a gobble. For some yet to be discovered reason, the turkeys were unusually quiet that season. Regardless of what tactic we plied, we could not get the birds to respond in a traditional manner. We killed a few, mostly due more to patience than exuberant birds responding to calling.

Yet as opening day approaches, the hunters in us will be filled with patience, anxiety and excitement as another opening day arrives. Here are some tips to remember when hunting opening day birds.

  1. Don’t over call. Too often, the early season brings about a lot of excitement and we love to hear our call echo through the woods. But this often works against us. If we call too much and too often we no longer sound natural and wary toms will soon ignore us.
  2. Calling too loud. – This is a carryover from point number one above. We get carried away calling that we call way too loud. Remember we are trying to sound like a hen turkey. They tend to speak softly and not as often as we do when calling. Mimic the old hen, don’t imitate her.
  3. Hunt the same ole place – again and again. We all have our favorite places to hunt turkeys. But if we are not careful, we hunt it so often the birds begin to associate the whole area as a danger zone and will begin to avoid that area all together and this information is passed from one generation to the next.
  4. Be willing to stay put for long periods of time. Patience has killed far more birds than award winning calling. Knowing the patterns of your birds will help to kill more. It is not uncommon to find a great location and make a few calls every hour and sit there for four or five hour before finally killing a bird.
  5. Be willing to move. When it just isn’t happening, get up, relocate and change the setup. Sitting too long can cost you birds. Just as moving too quickly can. Before long you’ll know if moving was the right thing to do or not. It is mostly a guessing game, just try and guess correctly.

Using these tips can help you find your bird and hopefully fill your first tag on opening morning.