Turkey Time

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Published on: Feb. 15, 2013

that blended in with the woods and kept them warm while they hunkered down on a cool, early spring morning.

Today, though, hunters can choose from a broad assortment of camouflage clothing, factory-made calling devices, camouflage ground blinds, gear vests, and life-like decoys that appear in every pose possible for a turkey. Shotguns and shotgun shells designed for turkey hunting come in a wide array.

Many turkey hunters prefer a 12-gauge shotgun with a full choke loaded with magnum shells firing No. 4 to No. 6 shot. But other gauges and chokes will work. It’s ok to make do with the shotgun at hand, one borrowed, or one bought used at an inexpensive price. Hunters should shoot ammunition designed for turkey hunting. But the critical component is that a hunter practices shooting to know how the shotgun and ammunition will perform at ranges from 20 to 50 yards. Studying pellet holes in a paper or cardboard target will help you sharpen your aim point and hone in on effective shooting ranges.

Department shooting ranges and education centers offer classes on turkey hunting and shooting skills. The ranges are also a good place to test shotgun shell patterns and to practice shooting skills.

For information about shooting ranges: mdc.mo.gov/node/6209. Also, go to the mdc.mo.gov/events to find classes and events in your area.

Green and brownish clothing in camouflage patterns — pants, hat, shirt, and face mask — are invaluable. Inexpensive versions work fine in good weather. Turkey hunting clothes, worn mostly in spring and fall seasons, can last for years. Do not wear the colors blue, red, white, or black, as turkeys have bluish to whitish heads, red waddles, and gobblers have blackish feathering. You don’t want to be mistaken for game.

Calling turkeys — imitating turkey vocalizations — is fun and perhaps the sport’s finest skill. Some experts make turkey talk with their mouth and throat. Most hunters, though, use man-made calls. Many turkey hunters start with a simple box call that easily imitates a hen’s clucks and yelps. A wooden paddle or striker is rubbed across the top edge of the box side and the friction creates the sound. Slate calls are another standby. A wooden or plastic peg is rubbed across the slate to mimic turkey purrs and clucks. Box calls and slate calls are good starting points for new hunters.

“Just a simple call that you can

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