Gobbler Game Plans

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Published on: Mar. 19, 2013

of Missouri’s spring turkey season and you have spotted three adult gobblers on the edge of a wheat field about 250 yards away. How do you call this late-season bachelor group into gun range?

Technique: After determining what direction the turkeys are going, try to circle around in front of the trio and find a spot along their potential travel route. Start out with soft yelps and, if possible, watch the reaction of the gobblers to your calling.

Insight: Though the breeding season is winding down, gobblers can still have a high interest in connecting with a hen. Rely on the terrain to remain unseen while sneaking to a set-up location. Consider putting out a lone hen decoy to entice the late-season longbeards.

Although turkeys will be turkeys, and not all techniques will leave you with a filled tag, hunters will have a much higher chance of connecting with spring gobblers by trying a variety of turkey hunting techniques. This spring, when you set up on a love-crazed longbeard, analyze the situation and apply a mixture of tactics; by doing so you’ll likely fill your tag shortly after Tom’s toes touch dirt on opening day. Calling in and harvesting a spring tom will have a lasting impression, and each new experience will help you become a better hunter.

Spring Turkey Season Play-by-Play

  1. 6 a.m.: Fly down from roost
  2. 7 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.: Courtship/mating/feeding
  3. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Loafing/egg laying
  4. 2 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.: Feeding
  5. 7:30 p.m.: Fly up to roost

Successful Setups

  1. Close the distance: Get as close as possible to the gobbler or a known turkey hangout location, 150 yards or closer depending on terrain and cover. As you ease to a setup use locator calls to keep tabs on the bird’s location.
  2. Plan ahead: Find a location before making any turkey calls in case the gobbler comes in quickly.
  3. Avoid obstacles: Turkeys can sometimes be hesitant to cross obstacles. Avoid setting up with any barriers between you and the gobbler (creeks, old fences etc.).
  4. Make it safe: Choose a tree that is wider than your shoulders and a spot where you can be seen by others. Wear blaze orange when moving.
  5. Settle in: Get a good seat to ensure you remain comfortable. Pack food and drink.
  6. Plan for the shot: Keep your gun up and pointed in the direction you expect the gobbler to approach. Positively identify a legal turkey that is within range of your equipment and ensure the shot is safe.

Turkey Timeline

  1. January to February: Brood flocks are well established and gobblers are seen in small flocks
  2. Mid- to late March: Flocks break up
  3. Mid-March: Gobbling begins, 1st peak in early April
  4. Mid-April to late May: Gobbling continues, 2nd peak in mid-April
  5. April to May: Courtship/mating
  6. Late April to late May: Hens nesting
  7. Early June to late August: Broods appear
  8. Mid-June to September: Brood flocks form

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