Turkey hunting demands patience and steady nerves

Although I had some fun in last week’s column, poking fun at spring gobbler hunters, this Saturday actually marks the opening day of our month-long spring turkey hunting season. There probably will be many hunters out that morning (hunting is only allowed until noon), but unlike deer season, it’s not all that critical to success to be afield opening day, as the hunters’ chances are excellent throughout the entire May season.

In fact, gobbler hunters’ chances may be even worse on opening day since a higher density of hunters calling and wandering the woods increases the chance they may spook gobblers that might otherwise respond to another hunter’s calling attempts. In the heavier hunted areas it’s not all that rare to have several hunters trying to work the same gobbler they’ve heard sounding off. That can be frustrating and even dangerous if any start trying to move in closer to the location they hear calling or gobbling coming from. The DEC slogan of “Talk, don’t stalk” is based on that paramount safety rule.

Because tom turkeys are often quite vocal during the spring mating season, trying to entice receptive hens to their location, some hunters fall into the trap that every gobbler they hear is fair game to move in on and call to. If they get close enough to hear what sounds like a hen, it’s time to back off, since it may be a real hen or another hunter calling. Either way, moving closer and calling are very apt to have negative effects. If it’s another hunter calling, all you’ll accomplish is confusing both the hunter and the gobbler. If it’s a real hen, she’ll make a beeline to the gobbler and leave you wondering why the tom suddenly quit gobbling.

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