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Examiner
  • Kenneth Kieser: Prepare for spring turkey season

  • I love preparing for spring turkey season. Checking camouflage and getting all equipment ready feels like a child preparing for Christmas.

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  • I love preparing for spring turkey season. Checking camouflage and getting all equipment ready feels like a child preparing for Christmas.
    My next gobbler will be No. 40, including all sub-species from across this country. My success as a turkey hunter hinges partly on being prepared, and that includes shooting.
    Target practice is important, even for veteran hunters. Recently we switched our brand of turkey shotgun shells and found a big difference while shooting targets. Out Federal loads generally shot high through my choke system while my new Hevi-Shot throws patterns slightly to the right. Adjusting my aim to the left peppered the point of dead instead of wounded.
    There is nothing wrong with the shotguns shells, but many don't realize that all shotguns pattern different shells and loads differently. This is why practicing on a paper target often means the difference between dead and wounded birds that fly or run away to suffer and die later.
    But turkey hunting should be excellent this year. We are not suffering from a wild turkey shortage. I often watch strutting gobblers while driving down the highway. Turkey numbers are good because of fair nesting weather last spring.
    Don't let better bird numbers lead you into a false security of the challenge of turkey hunting. The only difference is, now you have more smart birds in the woods.
    So how will you find and take a trophy gobbler? Let's look at some ideas that may help. These suggestions will inform novice hunters and will serve as a reminder for the experienced.
    SHOCK CALLING: Shock calling is the beginning to most successful turkey hunts. Gobblers are king of the woods when breeding and will answer with a thunderous gobbling at sounds other than turkeys.
    For example, a barred owl call is used before daylight to roosting and just landed on the ground gobblers. Crow calls are used as the morning progresses. But there is only one problem. Some gobblers seldom gobble and maybe not at all.
    I have watched gobblers walk in to calling in total silence. Others will gobble their heads off from the roost, on the ground and when moving into to find a clucking hen. The gobbling versions are certainly the most fun, but it does not always happen.
    I like to sit and call in areas where I know turkeys are visiting. Nothing has sharper hearing over a gobbler. They will hear your clucks and yelps. You just might be surprised to see a big boy sneaking in, quietly and without warning.
    A close friend who guides has watched big gobblers stand in the middle of fields and ignore hen calls. She loves to take the old boy off guard with a gobbler call or shaker. The big guy occasionally charges in to find out what swine bird is trying to steal his hens. Be cautious about using this type of call in public areas. Make sure your back is against a wide tree to avoid being shot in the back by a gun-toting moron who will never be called a true hunter.
    Page 2 of 2 - CALLING: Calling is important and necessary. But you do not have to be a champion caller to fool dominate gobblers – a fortunate fact for me. Basic clucks, yelps, cutting and purrs have constantly worked.
    Start by calling softly. A close gobbler will leave the area when a loud hen hurts his ears. Call softly for a few minutes and then increase your volume later. But don't overcall.
    I have listened to hens in the woods and noticed that sometimes one will yelp over and over. But she will eventually stop and listen for a while. Constant calling is not always successful and often a determent.
    I will note that all toms are different. What will work for one does not always work for the next hardened old gobbler. Sometimes you have to experiment.
    For example, you might bring in a wary old bird with very little calling. Watch a hen in the woods feeding. Only occasionally will she cluck or purr – sounds of contentment. At that moment she is more interested in the pleasures of dining while not even thinking about a date.
    The gobbler just wants to know her location. He has other thoughts in mind besides feeding. That occasional cluck just might get his attention.
    BASICS YOU NEED TO KNOW: Make a checklist before turkey hunting. Camouflage from head to toe is necessary. Then make sure you have a 2013-turkey signed tag, shotgun shells that are allowed by law and calls. And don't forget that cushion to sit on. That ground gets mighty rough on the old posterior without one. You will sit longer when comfortable.
    Kenneth Kieser is an outdoors writer. His column appears weekly in The Examiner. Reach him at kkieser@comcast.net
     
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