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April 21, 2023
Springtime is a magical time of year for a lot of hunters. This is the time nature is awakening from the slumber of winter and for turkey hunters it is that magical time when thunderous gobbles break the morning silence and hunters match wits with wary toms by trying to lure them into range of shotguns or bows.
Hunters typically use calls to get the tom’s attention and also use decoys to add realism to the scenario as the bird approaches what it perceives as a calling hen. All of this setup is vital and is exciting to see play out but without the proper concealment system in place the hunter will be easily picked out by the approaching bird and this is compounded greatly with any movements the hunter may make.
That’s why strategy is vital when hunting wild turkeys. You need to have the right tools, apparel with the latest technology, and good basic turkey knowledge at your disposal to maximize your turkey hunting success. This article will guide spring turkey hunting and cover everything you need to know to help you hunt more efficiently.
Spring is by far the most exciting and the most productive time to hunt turkeys. In spring, turkeys are actively breeding, so the hunter can interact with the birds and call in strutting toms by using the mating call of a wild turkey hen.
Also, successful hunters usually use a lifelike turkey decoy or two to help draw wary gobblers into range. Generally, April and May are the best months to hunt sping gobblers. Also, later in the season can be great because many of the male turkeys are still searching for hens but if the hens are nesting they will no longer be available for the toms to breed. This can make late season really exciting.
The thrill of calling a gobbler and having him answer with thunderous gobbles is like none other in hunting. The hunter must call and gauge the bird’s reaction to know what calls or actions are necessary to get the bird to commit to your setup. It is an addicting sport that draws in hunters across the country every year: So when you hunt in spring, you automatically increase your chances of success.
Because of this, you also have a better chance of running into male turkeys. Male turkeys are out and about more often because they’re trying to find and attract females since spring is the prime breeding season. Most states only allow hunters to take make turkeys in the spring to insure a good crop of young for the next season.
However, it’s essential to know your state’s game department laws concerning the turkey species you’re hunting, like all hunting. Check your state’s hunting laws for the type of weapons allowed, the permitted dates and bag limits, and license or tag requirements.
Different seasons produce different results — but none are comparable to springtime. Still, you might ask, “What if I want to hunt during other seasons?”
So, let’s take a closer look at how each season impacts turkey hunting tactics and success (and, in most cases, makes all the difference).
Fall turkey seasons aren’t uncommon in the hunting realm but since they usually coincide with other seasons like deer hunting season many fall turkeys are harvested incidentally while actually hunting big game.
Still, many won’t bother turkey hunting at this time because since they are not particularly vocal, it’s hard to find them around that time of year: Calling is mainly ineffective, and as a result, they are much more challenging to locate and approach.
Also, many hunters prefer to leave the gobblers until spring when they can put on the show all turkey hunters crave. If you decide to hunt gobblers in autumn, you’ll need to rely on following movements and signs like tracks instead of calls that are otherwise abundant in spring.
This is not to say fall turkey hunting is not a great sport. Because of the added difficulty, finding and taking a fall bird can be very satisfying; it’s just a different kind of excitement than you can have in the spring.
A few states do allow for winter turkey hunting. But most hunters forgo these times unless there is an extreme overpopulation situation where turkeys must be harvested to protect their food sources from decimation.
Snow is a significant consideration for turkey hunting in winter as well. If there is heavy snowfall, turkeys may sometimes roost in trees for up to two weeks at a time and can lose up to 40% of their body weight before returning to find food.
Finding turkeys in bare trees is not a challenge as their black bodies stand out from the white snow and brown bark. Most hunters consider shooting roosted birds as unethical as they are easily approached when roosted. This is one reason why most states do not allow winter hunting.
Wild turkey should not be confused with domestic turkey — the type in the freezer section at your local market — because wild turkey behavior is different. They are far more intelligent, elusive, and prepared to protect themselves from novice and avid hunters in any environment.
After all, that’s how biology works: The more they’re hunted by both predators and people, the more their defense mechanisms are honed to protect themselves from a young age.
But hunters can have the upper hand in turkey hunting by sticking to a target, mimicking vocal calls, camouflaging properly (including blocking your bioelectric signature), using decoys, and hunting in the right environment. With these five tips in mind, your odds of successfully bagging a gobbling tom are multiplied.
Although both male and female turkeys are present in the springtime, many federal and local laws only permit hunters to bag mature male turkeys (called toms) or juvenile male turkeys (called jakes). So before you head out, you’ll want to check your state’s regulations first.
This may seem like your chances of bagging a turkey are limited, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Male gobblers come out strutting as they try to attract hens during the springtime, meaning they’re out and about in large numbers — ultimately making it easier for you to find them.
Also, hen turkeys will be in various stages of mating and nesting, so harvesting female turkeys will severely limit the ability of the species to procreate and effectively ensure the species’ survival. One tom can service many hens, but the hens are responsible for all of the following year’s turkey population.
Mimicking hens’ precise vocal movements (sounds and cadence are essential to call it the big toms) makes it easier to lure gobblers in.
When calling in turkeys, you might be tempted to make one call as often as possible in hopes of reigning in more gobblers. However, experts advise against this: Calling too often may chase them away, so a good rule of thumb is to attempt a call every 15 to 30 minutes.
Once a tom gobbles back, you should give him several good hen yelps, cuts, and purrs. This usually gets a reaction of gobbling, which signifies the tom is interested. Then it’s usually best to sit quietly and let the bird find you. You must have patience as sometimes it can take hours for the bird to close the distance.
Remember that every turkey is different, so you may need to try different calls. When you’re calling, stick to light to moderate sounds. Most gobblers respond to lighter calls that aren’t too loud or heavy (like how hens would call). You can use your diaphragm, mouth, or calling devices, like boxes or slates.
There are several different types of calls. All are effective when used correctly, and most turkey hunters master at least two different call types to ensure they have one that the turkey will respond to.
Box calls are great for beginners because you can get a consistent sound. Experienced hunters do not necessarily rely on these calls to lure in turkey, but they are great for beginners and even moderately skilled callers.
Also, push button calls are even easier to use but make fewer sound variations. The box call can be mastered relatively quickly, and they can make some excellent hen turkey sounds, including yelps, purrs, and clucks.
However, turkeys are intelligent and quickly learn to avoid repetitive unnatural sounds. Another note is that these calls rely on the material to make it work. Since box calls are typically made of wood, they will not be as effective if wet on a rainy day.
Many hunters rely on box calls as their go-to call, but depending on the call construction, they can be more difficult to use in wet or rainy conditions. More movement is required with a box call than with some other types.
Slate calls, also called pot calls, are based on friction. You have a round disc made of different materials — such as slate, glass, or ceramic — that you pair with the striker (typically made of wood, carbon, or aluminum), which helps you create different sounds when it comes into contact with the disc.
More experienced hunters typically use this call since it is difficult to make because it takes more skill and practice to learn how to make the different turkey sounds with this call type. Slate calls are highly versatile, and the hunter can better control sound and volume than the call.
Also, you get unique sounds based on the material of the slate used. However, this is not ideal for hunting at close range since both hands must carry out a slate call.
Known as diaphragm calls, these calls use small devices made of rubber or latex that vibrate a turkey-imitating sound, where the hunter uses his tongue to force air across the latex to create a realistic turkey sound. The mouth controls this call, so hunters call until the turkey is close. Mouth calls are used mainly by the most experienced hunters because these are the most challenging type to master.
However, the benefit of the mouth call over any other is that it takes no hands to operate and no movement. This can be a huge advantage when it becomes necessary to call to a bird that’s close by or even in sight of the hunter.
This is a must-have call for every turkey hunter: A locator call does not imitate the turkey sound. Instead, you make a loud call such as a crow or coyote. This will often cause the turkey to “shock gobble” in response thereby preventing the tom from coming to the caller until he is set up and ready to call him in using hen sounds.
Locator calls are best used early or later in the day to identify the gobbler’s location. They’re also quite versatile because, with different techniques, you can get different sounds .
These are the original calling sounds for turkeys that date back thousands of years.
Wing bone calls are made from the wing bones of a turkey that are put together to create an instrument early hunters used to lure in gobblers via yelps or series of yelps. They’re straightforward to operate and can be used by any hunter, novice, or expert.
However, as you might expect, there’s little call versatility. Newer commercial calls are much more versatile and can mimic several different types of sound, which may arguably bring you better success.
Wild turkeys are highly intelligent and unpredictable creatures — so when you’re out in the field, turkeys automatically have an advantage that you don’t.
Wild turkeys have super sharp senses and are masters of evading predators and hunters alike. Combined with excellent eyesight and outstanding hearing, approaching a turkey without noticing can feel nearly impossible.
Turkeys have legendary eyesight that science knows can even see the electrical fields given off by all living beings. This means any movement with a concurrent electrical field is instantly recognized as a living movement and, therefore, a potential threat. This, combined with their incredible hearing, can make approaching a wild turkey nearly impossible without the right technology in place..
So, many turkey hunters opt for camouflage apparel and equipment when hunting gobblers. Good visual camouflage has been considered essential by all turkey hunters for years, but now the most successful turkey hunters are now using hunting clothing that conceals them on both the visual and electrical planes.
HECS StealthScreen is the only currently available clothing option that blocks your bioelectrical emissions (that turkeys can see). This is a gigantic advantage to any turkey hunter, because with HECS some movement is completely possible which simply is not with any other regular camouflage pattern.
HECS also uses their proprietary HECStyle camo patterns also conceal on the visual level but this pales in comparison to the difference the electrical blocking will provide. In fact, HECS has proven that blocking electrical emission is more important than just about any other concealment in the turkey woods.
Need to see it to believe it? Here is a test that proves this.
How does it work? It all comes down to a precise, patented science. HECS® apparel is more than just visual camo: It’s also camo for your bioelectric signature.
Unique technological elements are woven into the fabric that shields your body’s natural bioelectric signature, which essentially confuses the turkey (or any game), allowing them to perceive you as an inanimate object. This is seen by many as the most imporetaint advancement in turkey hunting gear in the past 50 years!
Plus, HECS® apparel has “HECStyle” digital camo patterns that provide the most effective visual camouflage for being out in the field. This provides concealment on 2 levels and is demonstrably more effective than any other concealment system in the turkey woods.
That’s why choosing the right camo gear is so important. With HECS®’s combination of effective patterns and blocking the human body’s natural bioelectrical emissions, you can successfully approach the game much closer than ever before — and get away with more movement.
Using decoys is a great way to attract turkeys to a specific area while keeping their attention away from you.
The most effective way to use decoys is if you’re hunting up close — between 10 and 20 yards max. This will help ensure that the gobbler is well within your effective range and focused on the decoys (that he thinks he hears calling).
If things work perfectly, the gobbler will be right into the decoys giving you an excellent shot opportunity. If he hangs up, he’s still likely to be within the 50-yard maximum range for most turkey shotguns.
While not necessary to kill a big tom, decoys are always worth setting up if you have time. In open fields, however, they’re hugely beneficial — because while turkeys rely on forests for roosting and cover at night, they prefer open areas for feeding, mating, and raising their young.
It would be best to place a hen decoy in the area you want the flock to gravitate toward. Your calling will give attention to the decoy as well.
Most experienced hunters will set up a hen decoy and a jake (immature male turkey). This tells any incoming gobbler that there is a receptive hen in the company of a young adolescent tom. A mature gobbler typically will not tolerate this and will come running in to kick a jake into the next county. This gives the hunter both excitement and a super easy shot opportunity.
Unfortunately, your hunting efforts are moot if you’re hunting in the wrong habitat.
Although wild turkeys are found nationwide, some of the most popular states that yield the most excellent gobbler results are Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
And according to a long-term study — backed by plenty of scouting, observation, and satellite research — there are a handful of ideal environments to conduct your next gobbler hunt:
You’ll likely have luck almost anywhere there’s a turkey presence, but if you stick to these regions and environments during the springtime, you’re bound to bag more than you bargained for.
Calling devices? Check.
HECS® multi-level camouflage? Check.
Hunting decoys? Check.
Grassy and watery areas? Check.
Alas, that’s not all you need to know about turkey hunting. Whether you’ve already gone out with no luck or want to be extra-prepared for your next venture, remember that timing is everything.
You must choose the best time of day with the correct temperatures and weather conditions to better your chances of bagging a gobbler. Let’s break down what you need to know.
Hunting turkeys requires good planning — and it’s best to start first thing in the morning, well before dawn. There are two reasons for this:
Sunrise times will differ depending on where you live, so plan and prepare accordingly so that you’re ready to head out at the most optimal time.
Much like people, turkeys prefer mild temperatures. The calmer and more comfortable the weather is, the more likely turkeys will be out and about. Their activities will slow if the weather is too hot or too cold, with chances that they’re either cooling off in the trees or roosting away until the weather calms down.
Turkeys generally are more active when the temperature is between 60°F to 69°F. If you do find yourself on a hotter-than-expected day while out on the hunt, you may have luck finding turkeys cooling down in shaded and wooded areas or by water holes. Try calling yelps!
Whether an overcast sky or a sunny day, turkeys prefer calm weather without rain or strong winds. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the worse the weather, the worse the conditions for hunting. That’s because turkeys quickly hide away in harsh weather — and even worse, they’re not very vocal then, either.
So, what do you do if you’re hit with unforeseen lousy weather? It depends on what kind you’re talking about:
Generally speaking, you’ll want to plan for an early morning with clear skies when you embark on your turkey hunting venture. Unpredictable weather and temperatures can happen, but with the right skills, you can outsmart any gobbler anytime and anywhere.
By now, you know how essential planning your turkey hunt day is. The right equipment is necessary, but you also need the right tools, skills, and knowledge.
So remember, when springtime comes around, you should:
Luckily, HECS® has covered you in camo that seamlessly blends you into your surroundings like no other apparel can.
With apparel specifically designed to shield your natural electrical emissions, you can approach the game more accessible than ever without worrying about gobblers running away at the slightest movements — and you will be able to get away with considerably more movement than with any other camo option.
The best part: You’ll also quickly increase your bagging stats every spring hunting season.
Learn more about how HECS® Technology can bring you close to wildlife today.
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Mike Slinkard is a life long bow hunter, professional archer, successful entrepreneur, and self described science geek from the rural town of John Day Oregon. Mike has spent his life in close proximity to all types of animals. His grandfather was a well known cattle and horse rancher who first instilled Mike’s keen interest in animals and why they react the way they do in different situations. Mike’s insatiable curiosity in this realm led him to team with other professionals to make the HECS discovery in 2009. Mike has hunted all over the world and has taken over 30 species with archery gear including 48 elk to date. Mike currently hosts “Hunting with HECS TV” on the Pursuit Channel. He has also written many bow hunting and archery articles as well as being a guest on many different hunting podcasts.