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Prepare now for turkey hunting season by Larry Myhre

Reprinted from the Sioux City Journal

A little preparation right now can put the odds on your side come turkey hunting season.

And when it comes to hunting these wise, old birds, you need all the help you can get. After all, only one in five hunters fill their tag in Iowa.

It’s been interesting to see how turkey hunting has changed over the years. This will be my 30th straight year in the turkey woods. I’ve shot toms in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

When I first began hunting turkeys, everyone was in the woods before the crack of dawn. They’d find roosting toms and then set up as close to them as they dared and begin making quiet hen tones.

By 10 a.m., most of the hunters were on their way home for lunch and maybe watch a game on TV if it were a weekend.

Somewhere along the line, hunters began forgoing the dawn hunt and venturing into the woods at 10 a.m., or later. They learned that their success was greater later in the day when the hens had left the toms and gone to nest.

With the high turkey numbers we have today, there is no shortage of hens. Now hens are roosting with the toms and at fly down, the toms follow the hens, and are reluctant to leave them.

Even though tactics have changed somewhat, it is still important to do that preseason scouting.

There are two things you want to learn. One is where the turkeys are roosting. Two is where they go after fly down. If you are an early morning hunter, you must set up along the path the turkeys take. If you hunt later in the day, you must know where the birds end up at late morning. Once the hens leave them, the toms will remain in that general area for most of the rest of the day.

Turkeys gobble a lot before fly down in the morning and you can locate them that way, or go out just after dark and blow an owl call. They will respond if within ear shot.

The main thing is to do your scouting from afar. You don’t want to spook them because they may change their routine. The more you can learn about them before the hunt the better.

The next important thing before the hunt is to pattern your gun with the loads you have been using. Get some turkey targets and take a shot at 20 yards, 30 yards and 40 yards. Six to ten hits in the spinal cord and head will insure the bird goes down. If you are getting a good target at 40 yards, move out to 50.

The choke in your shotgun is important. At minimum it should be a full choke, but most turkey hunters, myself included, use an extra full turkey choke.

Since the beginning I have used number six buffered and copper plated shot. Other hunters like four or five shot. [Read more…]

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Spring Turkey Hunting By Gary Howey

I can’t wait until old man winter releases his grip on the upper Midwest and spring arrives when I can hit the woods to begin another season to pursue spring turkey.

This will be my forty-first season where I hope to add my 104th bird to my turkey log. This year, I’ll have three Nebraska tags and help my Son-in-Law Matt and grandson Teddy to tag their first birds in South Dakota.

It’s a good time to get out, spend some time in the woods doing a combination turkey scouting and shed hunting trip. Deer general; shed their headgear in mid-February, but not all deer shed at the same time. It’s possible you will find sheds shortly after the rut. While I’m out looking for sheds, I have my eye out for turkey sign as I hunt sheds in the same areas where I hunt turkeys.

When my camera crew and I are seriously thinking about turkey hunting, the first thing we need to do is to put together some sort of a plan.

If you are hunting locally, putting a plan together doesn’t take much time, but if you’re looking at hunting in a different area or even a different state, making a plan will be very important.

If I’m going to be hunting in a different state, I start by checking the web sites of the state’s Game and Parks or DNR I’m looking at getting a permit. If they have a lot of information and columns devoted to turkey hunting, it’s a good bet there a good numbers of the birds in the state.

After looking at the South Dakota Game & Parks site where I had hoped to have the opportunity to do some turkey hunting with my son in law and grandson, I was disappointed to find out the county they would be hunting in, didn’t issue any nonresident permits, I had to re-plan the hunt.

We would have to start checking around at the states where we would have a chance at obtaining a permit; I’ll grab the phone and contact the game department of the state. This is where I obtain as much information as I can from their experts. I’ll talk with the people that spend a lot of time in the field and have their finger on what’s happening as far as turkey numbers. This information helps me to zero in on an area with good numbers of birds and if I’m lucky, I may even be able to obtain some names of folks in the area that may allow hunting.

I choose a zone or area where I have a good chance of getting a permit. Then it’s that anxious time, waiting to find out if you were successful on the draw. Once I know I have a permit or tag I look for any public land in the area, if that area happens to be one the game department was high on, I get an aerial map of it and see what’s there, checking out any heavily wooded areas for possible roosts and areas where the birds could feed.

I’ve hunted turkeys in Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas and Mississippi and got my best information from those states Game & Parks-DNR’s. Some of them have turkey density and harvest information that helps us to choose what area to hunt. [Read more…]