Turkeys

Turkey season opens in about a month (April 17 in Kentucky). Time to start getting ready.

Turkeys can be notoriously frustrating to hunt but they are fairly predictable critters. While lovesick juvenile birds will range far in search of a mate, mature birds typically stick fairly close to their home ranges. Where you saw them last year is likely where you’ll see one this year.

Scouting should be done judicially. I once heard George Wright, the renowned turkey biologist and researcher who was the architect of Kentucky’s turkey restoration (around 2,000 birds statewide in 1978 to about 250,000 today) say that the best thing you could do to get ready for turkey season was to stay out of the woods. George preached road side scouting: watching and listening to locate birds but basically staying out of the woods until opening morning. You could find birds by listening, he claimed, and the gobblers weren’t going anywhere.

This was and remains good advice but I hardly ever follow it because I like to stomp around in the woods searching for sign and basically pretending I’m a better woodsman than I am.

George had another piece of advice and I hardly ever follow but should: Call softly and call seldom. When I get a bird in my neighborhood I tend to call often and loudly. Said bird then usually leaves quickly and quietly.

I’ve had some non-hunting friends ask, “Isn’t turkey hunting dangerous?”

Well,  no, at least no more than most things. Just hunt safe and apply a few basic rules: Be certain of your target. Be certain of your target. And be certain of your target.

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