Gear up for turkey season
Gear Up for the 2018 Turkey Season
With warmer weather on the way it’s time to start talking turkey.
Here’s a list of things you can be doing right now to increase your odds of success this spring...
February is a tough month for many hunters. Throughout most of the country, big game seasons have ended, but the weather still remains cold and gloomy. So if you’re like me, the late winter lull already has you thinking about warmer weather, longer days, and wild turkeys.
Now’s a good time to start making preparations for the upcoming turkey season. Here’s a rundown of some of the important tasks that you need to accomplish before spring arrives, your to-do list for bagging a big tom.
Get Out and Scout: There’s still no substitute for getting mud on your boots and spending time in the woods. Even if you aren’t seeing turkeys, you can determine a lot about their behavior by finding tracks and scratchings in the woods, all of which are good indicators that you’re where you need to be come spring. The more time you spend in the woods, the more prepared you are to make the right decision when setting up on a bird. That “instinct” that some hunters have that just leads them to the right place at the right time is often the result of hours spent in the woods scouting.
But what if you don’t have a place to hunt already lined up? That’s no problem. Now’s the perfect time to do a little research to find a new place to hunt. You can access state hunting area maps on the web, but one tool that has made the process much simpler is onXmaps. The onX app offers land maps and helps you identify boundaries between public and private property, which helps prevent hunters from trespassing. If there’s a particular piece of land I’d like to hunt, I can see who owns the land and contact them directly.
Get Your Equipment in Gear: One of the biggest mistakes that I make each spring is failing to get my turkey hunting gear organized before a hunt. Generally, my turkey vest is a mess by the time the next spring rolls around—there are calls in every pocket, leftover snack-food wrappers, a headlamp with a dead battery, and so forth. What I need I oftentimes don’t have, and what I have I can rarely find.
The first order of business then, is to get my gear in line for spring. I want my calls to be organized, I want my shell pouches filled, game bag cleaned, and knives sharpened. But one thing that I always carry is some type of emergency preparedness kit. Early on while hunting, I started with very basic kits that included a tune of Neosporin, a few Band-Aids, and perhaps a tube of insect bite relief. But what I have learned is that when you need an emergency kit, it’s far better to have plenty of items that can help you in a number of circumstances. This year Lansky is introducing their PREP (Preparedness Resource Equipment Pack) which includes essentials like a LifeStraw water filter, emergency blanket, Lansky multi-tool, firestarter, and much more. It’s a conveniently-sized pack that’s perfect for carrying in a vest. (www.lansky.com)
Know Your Gun: Rifle hunters spend a lot of time at the range with their firearm testing loads, adjusting optics, and zeroing in for the upcoming hunting season, but turkey hunters rarely do that. And while it’s true that you don’t need to spend a lot of time on the range with your turkey gun, you do need to spend time patterning your favorite turkey load to be sure that it works well with your shotgun. You also need to know your practical range limitation when hunting. If a bird is at 40 yards, can you make that shot cleanly? What about 50 yards? Patterning on the range will give you a clear indication of which loads work well in your gun and at what distances. It’s also worth swapping out chokes to see if there’s any difference in pattern. Some factory full chokes actually pattern better than extra-full turkey chokes, depending upon the manufacturer, the gun, and the load. Spending a little time this off-season at the range will help increase your odds of a clean kill this spring.
Now’s also the perfect time to consider switching turkey loads. Federal Premium recently introduced a fantastic new load for turkey hunters, their Federal Heavyweight TSS. The key ingredient in this new load is the incorporation of tungsten alloy pellets that are 22% denser than regular tungsten, and 56% denser than lead pellets. Payloads of #7 or #9 shot provide up to twice the pellet count of standard #5 turkey loads, the FLITECONTROL FLEX wad provides tight, consistent patterns through all turkey chokes, and the extended wad protects the inside of the bore from damage. These shells come in five-count packs, and there are 12- and 20-gauge options as well as a 3-inch .410 version.
With turkey season right around the corner ,now’s the time to start making plans to connect with a big gobbler. Don’t let the opportunity to fill your tag pass you by because you didn’t take the time to do your homework—a little preparation now goes a long way on opening day.