Save the fancy calling for later in the season and rely on scouting and patience for the opening weekend of turkey season.
After a long winter, the spring turkey season is finally set to open April 6. While hunters may be excited to hit the woods, local turkeys may be stuck in winter.
There are many strategies that can lead to turkey hunting success. Just like bucks in the rut, toms can become very aggressive during the breeding season. Opening weekend might not be the best time to pick a fight.
My strategy for the start of the spring season is to rely on stealth and ambush as opposed to calling and decoys.
I’ve had the good fortune of being able to watch my local flock almost every day. They have been habitual in their movement and daily activity, and haven’t been interested in traveling outside of their local hotspots. The two toms in the group haven’t had any issues displaying near each other, although it’s clear which one is the boss.
I don’t get the feeling that they have progressed very far past their late winter routine. That could all change very quickly, but scouting should reveal preferred places to spend time hunting local turkeys. Knowing where a roost is located is great, but knowing where turkeys like to eat and hang out is better.
Toms have been gobbling for the last few weeks, but it’s been sparse and has often lacked enthusiasm. It’s going to be difficult to find a bird thundering away on opening weekend. For this reason, I’m going to keep my approach quiet.
I’m not going to worry much about calling, but I will have a few decoys just in case. I just haven’t witnessed much vocalization and it doesn’t seem to me that a bunch of calling is going equate to hunting success.
The first undergrowth is starting to fill out and the woods are becoming a better place to still-hunt and sneak into position. Simply locating birds, being willing to move and get ahead of them is my other opening weekend tactic to rely on.
Each hunt will be the best scouting you have, and being willing to explore and adjust will be important over the next month of hunting.
My recipe for opening weekend success isn’t complicated. I’m going to set up in the middle of the turkey’s favorite spot and be patient. I’m not going to worry about calling and I may or may not set up a few decoys. Finding the right spot is far more important than the bag of tricks you can throw at the flock.
All it will take is some warm weather to bring a new reason to go hunting in the woods. Morel mushrooms should start to appear soon throughout the Cross Timbers. Finding a few is one of the many great reasons to go hiking in the spring.
Jon Kocan is the Stillwater News Press outdoors writer and a longtime hunter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.