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Early Season Turkeys Can Be Fickle

It is hard to type on the ipad as I sit here strapped to my bow release.  But we are finally back in the spring turkey woods.  Aaaaah does it feel good to be  home.   I almost forgot how fickle these early season birds can be.

Throughout the winter, turkeys have been grouped up into winter flocks.  Partly because resources are limited and partly because they had nothing better to do.  Now that we are entering the early phases of the breeding season, things change drastically.  Many hunters are just noticing flocks starting to break up.  Groups that may have numbered in the hundreds now may be many groups of 5-10.   In some areas, toms are out on their own looking for those first hens ready to breed.  You may not hear a ton of gobbling right now but it is almost like a light switch.  One minute the birds could care less and the next may find toms running to the call.  Here are a few tips that may help over the next two weeks:

1. Scout the area – it is much easier to kill birds when you can set up close to where they want to be

2. Travel routes – early season birds tend to have consistent routes they take from the roost tree to feeding areas.  Set up along one of these areas and play the waiting game.  If you need something to occupy your time might I recommend Drew Estate’s Isla Del Sol?

3. Roost trees – these are golden opportunities to start your day close to birds.  Find the roost tree and set up within 100 yards or so.  From this location you will be able to determine when flock dispersal occurs and may be able to bring in a big tom early.

4.  Calls – use them now….

5. Pressure – try to minimize your pressure in a given area.  Park the truck away from the area you want to hunt and walk in.    Great exercise for your wellness program!

6. Blinds – make sure to minimize window openings to the bare necessities and position the blind and decoy to maximize shot opportunities once the tom does stroll in.

7.  Decoys – now is a great time for jake decoys.  Toms are establishing dominance during this period and they may be more apt to come across a field to thump an intrusive jake than bug a hen who may not be ready to breed.

8. Decoy position – while I always like my hens facing me, position the jake facing the direction you think the tom will come from.  That jake staring him in the eye is rude and a sure sign of a turkey that needs to be taught a lesson.

9. Be patient – birds are not seen everywhere like they seem to be in later spring.  Let your early season hunts be good scouting for what is to come.

10. Join Hershy and me every Thursday night on KFOR 1240 Nebraska Outdoors and share your stories….we get tired of making up our own!

A room with a view
A room with a view

About jeff rawlinson

Jeff is the Education Manager in the Communications Division with Game and Parks where he has worked for the last 15 years. He oversees the Hunter Education, Boater Education, Hunter Outreach and Shooting Range Development for the Commission and is a devout hunter, angler, wildlife viewer, naturalist, father and husband. He holds a BS and MS from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has been a Hunter Education Instructor for over 20 years, NRA firearms instructor and range officer, National Archery in the Schools Program Archery Instructor Specialist and member of the National NASP Board, sits on the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Hunter Recruitment and Retention Committee and Education Committee. Jeff is an avid handgun hunter, loves to chase turkeys in the spring, squirrel hunting enthusiast and philosopher of the outdoors. He is an avid shooter and loves to spend outdoor time with family and friends. He has a passion for exciting others about the outdoors. A history buff, Jeff is a strong supporter of our North American Model of Conservation and tries to spread the message of its importance and relevance every chance he gets.

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