We have only a short time until the spring season opens. With everything we have to do in spring, we have little time to get ready. Do you need to check out a property? Are your turkey calls ready? Have you patterned your shotgun? What about the gear you’ll be toting in your vest?
If I could give you one secret to killing turkeys, that secret is in all four of those things. The secret is confidence. You won’t fill turkey tags if you lack confidence in the property you hunt, in the calls you carry, in the shotgun you shoot, or in the gear you use. Spend the pre-season building confidence.
It’s time to touch bases with landowners. Has anything changed on the properties you usually hunt? Are the turkeys in their normal routines? Have they adjusted to logging, drilling, or farming activities? Now is the time to find out if active gobblers are courting hens there. Unless you have your own property or exclusive hunting rights, you’re probably going to run into other hunters sometime during the season. They might mess you up and you may need a new place to go. You might even mess them up. (No, it’s not always the other guy.) So check out some new areas and make sure you have confidence in the properties you hunt all season long.
Get your calls out and try them all. Do they sound is as good as they did last year? Soak your diaphragm calls in clean water for a few minutes before running them. Inspect your box calls for cracks. Maybe you lost the strikers to your slate calls. Try holding your strikers and your boxes in new ways and the new sounds you get might surprise you. Buy a new turkey call or two because you can never have too many calls. Spend a couple of evenings running your calls. The ones that give you the most confidence are the ones that will call turkeys.
Pattern Your Shotgun:
The shells you used last year might be just fine, but it wouldn’t hurt to shoot a few to make sure your pattern is tight at the greatest distance you are willing to shoot. About 10 years ago I bought a bunch of Remington Nitro number 5 shot. Many hunters criticize these shells, but they’ve never let me down — even when I’ve misjudged the distance. Which reminds me, brush up on judging distance. It’s as important as having a tight pattern because if you misjudge distance, your pattern might be far different from what you expect. You’ll kill more turkeys if you’re confident in the shotgun you shoot and in your ability to judge distance.
You don’t need to carry everything the advertisements tell you are must-haves. Empty your vest. Go over everything and ask yourself, “Do I need this?” You don’t need the best flashlight because daylight is coming, but you do need fresh batteries. A little food and drink will sustain you through the morning — I use breakfast bars and apple juice boxes. You’ll need something to fill out a tag. You should have an orange hat to wear when you carry out that gobbler. Be sure to carry a camera and if you use your cell phone, get a compact selfie-stick. For me, pictures are as important as beards and spurs. What you carry in your vest should add to your confidence. If it doesn’t, ditch it.
Opening day will come quickly, and you can’t open the season with confidence if you don’t spend the pre-season building confidence. That’s what you should be doing now. It will pay off.
When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting , he’s thinking about hunting talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.