Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turkey Season Underway

Well, it's finally upon us here in Central Florida and the unseasonably cold weather has the birds way behind schedule. Between the continued cold snaps and windy/wet weather, the birds just aren't finding themselves in the mood for love most mornings.

However, the afternoons are getting pretty good. Late day gobblers are warmed up enough to make them a little frisky and they're out searching the field edges for mates. While the hens may not be that receptive yet, the old toms sure find it hard to resist the sweet soft yelps of slate or mouth call.

So far, the season has only been open for four days and my clients have harvested 3 birds in the afternoon. We're hoping that the warming trend continues and the birds are responsive all season long.

If you find yourself in an area where turkeys are less than cooperative, don't get discouraged. There are some things you can do to improve your success.

First, remember that running and gunning is not always the best tactic for turkeys. And while many of us like the action, it often pays to be patient and wait them out.

Second, make sure you target areas where birds will want to spend large amounts of time just relaxing, like small open wood lots and over grown field edges with shade. Blind calling every 15 minutes in these areas is a great way to enjoy the mild weather and wait on a bird to make his rounds.

Next, don't get fancy! Keep it simple and stick to soft yelping and light purring. As the day wears on, birds are less likely to be vocal. A gobbler is most active in searching for hens when his body temperature has his sperm at optimum levels. Too cold and he's tight lipped. Too hot and he's just looking for a place to stay cool and eat a litte. Those key temperatures vary the further north you get. Down here, it's between 50 and 75 degrees. Watch your weather and optimise your time when the conditions are best.

Last, don't be affraid to cut loose every now and then. While soft calling is often the key, throwing in a really aggresive cut run every few call sequences might just get a close bird to fire off and come in running. This has been very effective in the late mornings and early evenings this year.

Whatever you do and where ever you hunt, make sure to pack light, be comfortable, and stay hydrated. Being still, silent and comfortable makes for a much more enjoyable and often successful hunt. If you're bogged down in gear, over or under dressed, or just unable to sit for long periods without moving a lot, you're less likely to be able to stay undetected.

Turkeys can see in color and have a 270 degree field of view. Their hearing is excellent and can hear the softest call at 75 yards away. If the buggers could smell we'd never kill them.

Remember to scout and glass as much as possible and you'll increase your success rates. Use the knowledge you have of duck hunting by learning to key on food sources and safe zones. Being where they want to be at the right time trumps good calling any day.

Good luck out there and be safe this spring. Hope everyone has a chance to get out and enjoy the glorious weather that's coming our way.

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