As a youngster, it seemed spring turkey season couldn’t come soon enough. I would listen for gobbling often, spend plenty of time in the timber, and would thoroughly check my gear while counting down the days to the season opener. Now, with a busy career and family life, turkey season sneaks up on me far too quickly. To make efficient use of my time before season and make my turkey hunting time afield more productive, I use the following pre-season plan as “tryouts” for the real season that’s to come. Read along for a step-by-step guide to spring turkey season preparation.
Scout for Success
If you want to harvest a turkey, locating a piece of property that has a good population of birds is crucial. If you intend to set out on private land, make sure you gain permission well before the season opener — the earlier the better. Considering the regular spring season opens on the third Monday in April, it is not a stretch to start locating properties to hunt in January or February. Don’t discredit public property either. Missouri is a great place to turkey hunt, and the Missouri Department of Conservation owns and manages more than 400 conservation areas that allow tur-key hunting. Regardless of where you plan to hunt, make sure you have reviewed the area regulations and/or gained permission in advance, and follow any requests the landowner may have.
Once you have located property to hunt, your next job is to find wild turkeys. Obtain an aerial photo of the property you will be hunting and study the habitat features. Grab your boots and take a walk on the area as well.
Become familiar with boundary lines and where turkey hangout locations may be. While doing your pre-season homework, locate any creeks, fences, or other obstacles that may hinder a gobbler from coming to your setup and make a mental note of where these are located. During on-the-ground scouting trips, watch for wild turkey signs, including droppings (j-shaped for gobblers and popcorn-shaped for hens), scratchings, dusting areas, turkey feathers, and roosting areas.
As spring progresses and flocks begin to break up, toms will routinely gobble at dawn. Start listening for gobblers around the middle of March and, if possible, listen once a week on the property you intend to hunt. Pick an unobtrusive area on the property for listening and arrive at least