It’s the zenith of optimism for a spring hunter, that moment just before sunlight breaks the horizon on the opening day of turkey season and the first gobble has been heard.
But to make sure the optimism transfers into actual success, a hunter has to have his game plan down and make the most of the moment. Don’t leave opening day up to random chance. Here are five tips to help you punch that turkey tag on opening day.
- Be Early – This is particularly critical if hunting shared leased land or public land where you may need to compete for the best spots. Even better, get there the evening before and try to roost a bird by getting it to gobble at owl hoots or coyote howls after fly up. Odds are, your bird is going to be right where you left it when you show up the next morning.
- Get Close – When a bird sounds off in the morning, get to him quickly. Not just because you want to be the first hunter to him, but you want to be the first hen to him as well. Most toms at this time are surrounded by hens in anticipation of breeding. If you can set up close enough to be between the gobbler and his hens, you may be in great position to have him fly right down to you when he descends from his roost.
- But Not Too Close – Remember, the woods are much more open this time of year so be careful you don’t get so close as to bump the tom from his roost. That one big misstep can really set your opening day odds back a good bit.
- Know The Flock’s Habits – Turkey flocks should be following similar patterns as they did the days right before the season began. Take a little time before work to listen and note where the birds go on your property before the opener. Then, if you can’t get close to the tom before he pitches down, or if too many hens are around him as it is getting light, you can then set up in a spot you know they are apt to congregate toward. Match the calls of hens flying down, pulling them your way and then shut up and have your gun ready as the first birds ample into your field of vision.
- Bust ‘Em Up – Too many birds bunched up making it hard to get a shot at the gobbler? Put down your calls, ease as close to them as you can, and pull a page from your fall playbook by rushing the flock and scattering them. The trick is to get that gobbler or gobblers to fly off by him or themselves. Unlike fall, when it may take hours or even a day to get a tom to respond to calls, they want to be with hens and will call back much quickly. Set up toward the direction he flew (the seldom initially go more than a few hundred yards when cover is involved) and try to set up and call, becoming the first hen he thinks he is going to get back with.