When it comes to turkeys, the call of the wild is more complicated than you think. Turkey hunting is as much an art as a science, with endless factors that can affect how these big birds behave — and how best to bag them.
Successful hunters will prepare for months before the season opens, carefully scouting the local populations to build a strategy for the entire spring. But long-term prep is no match for spring weather, which can turn fair or foul as quickly as a tom gets turned off by a bad decoy hen.
Other spring sporting, such as spring bass fishing, can be challenging and learning how to work with the chaotic conditions is part of the fun. These spring turkey hunting tips will help you stay on target no matter what the weather brings and keep you bagging gobblers all season long.
Get Out and Scout
Your first spring turkey hunting tip should actually come well before the season opens, and it’s not only about finding fowl. Turkey season opens at different times in different states — as early as the first week of March in places like Florida, and as late as May in New York and Pennsylvania. Make sure to check with your state’s wildlife authority for all regulations, including the hours permitted for hunting and the tag limit for the season as a bowhunter or shooter.
From there, it’s time to start tracking toms, and the best way to do that is by following hens. Springtime is the breeding season for wild turkeys, so males will be extra aggressive as they strut around courting females and fighting off rivals. Conversely, hens tend to be more calm and flock together while foraging for food and places to nest and roost — and wherever there are hens, there will be toms close by.
Grab your binoculars, hightail it to your hunting grounds, and find a good spot to set up and scout. Keep an eye out for feathers, tracks, and droppings in order to find the places hens tend to congregate, then mark them on your map or set up remote cameras so you can check in before the season opens and the real turkey hunting begins.
Dress for Success
Spring weather can be weird enough already. Depending on where you live and when turkey hunting season opens, you may find yourself scouting or shooting in subzero temperatures or scorching heat — sometimes all in the same day! Serious hunters need serious equipment, but too much gear will drag you down or make movement unwieldy and awkward, which is a serious problem while stalking eagle-eyed turkeys.
Rather than boiling in a turkey blind covered in unnecessary rain gear, use an AcuRite Atlas® Weather Station for real-time weather monitoring and planning your loadout for your spring turkey hunting trip. Monitor temperature and humidity levels to determine how many layers to wear, and check for incoming precipitation so you never get caught in the rain without your boots or stuck suffering in the heat. Given that you may spend hours in the same spot and position all while exposed to the elements, your physical comfort is crucial to turkey hunting — because the more you fidget or squirm, the more likely you are to alert nearby toms to your presence.
Watch the Weather
Outdoor conditions won’t just affect your comfort — they can be the difference between bagging a bird or heading home empty-handed. Turkey behavior is fairly predictable under typical circumstances, but they will alter their habits depending on the weather. With a little knowledge and the right portable AcuRite weather technology, you can use this information to your advantage.
Turkeys tend to leave their treetop roosts each morning in order to scrounge around for food in forests. But on rainy days, gobblers flock to open areas to congregate instead. If it is cold and foggy as well, turkeys may stay up in their roosts indefinitely until visibility improves or the air heats up. Check your AcuRite home weather system with the My AcuRite® App for an hourly forecast to plan your strategy. If you’ve been scouting roost spots for weeks, only to show up and find the birds sleeping in or otherwise missing, head to nearby fields or grassy areas — especially ones in direct sunlight that have warmed up all morning. If the weather won’t break, use your array of waterproof calls to coax hens and toms out of the treetops and onto the ground in your line of sight.
Blustery days are notoriously tough for turkey hunting, since your decoys can blow away and your calls die in the loud, swirling gusts. Leave the arrows at home if you’re worried about accuracy, and keep your clothes tight so that flapping sleeves won’t give you away. Keep an AcuRite Portable Anemometer in your hunting vest to monitor the prevailing winds, then use that knowledge to gain an advantage. Turkeys hide from high winds, so seek out low-lying areas that offer coverage and protection to the birds, and a perfect makeshift blind for you to bust out your loud box calls that will carry better through the air.
Above all else, the most important spring turkey hunting tip is to park yourself somewhere and wait. The call-and-response nature of turkey hunting is a delicate game of hooking a tom and making sure he doesn’t hang up. Getting your calls realistic and round is hard enough without the weather complicating things, but if you stay armed with AcuRite weather gear, you can adapt to any situation and enjoy your most successful season ever.