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Name: Joel Nelson
IDA Staff Since: 12/04/06 12:00 AM
Sponsor(s): Quaker Boy Game Calls
Website/Email: joel.nelson@in-depthoutdoors.com
2012 Turkey Hunting Primer by Joel Nelson

Will You Be Proficient Enough to Call This Tom From His Hens?
By now, many of us have a good idea of when and where we’ll be turkey hunting. Plans have been made. Tags bought. Some of us have even been hunting already. But even with a spring as early as this one, I’ll maintain that the number one reason turkey hunters sometimes don’t share the success they strive for is ill-preparedness. Try as we may to stay ahead of the curve, turkey season sneaks up on ya. Maybe it’s the seasonal nature of the whole deal. Really, we hunt turkeys for such a short time, it’s difficult to keep our head in the game all year. Whatever the reason may be, most hunters I know will exit the end of May about the time when they really start to hit their stride. Grizzled veterans of the turkey woods are lucky in some regards. They have years of experience to draw upon, but most of them don’t get to the level of understanding they do by falling back on hunts of years-past; they actively eat, sleep, and breathe turkeys month-by-month. Understandably, not all of us have the time, energy, or interest to be the Ol’ Man of Turkey Hollow, but the good news is that you don’t have to sleep with your string of beards or gargle water from turkey tracks to be a better hunter this season. What you do have to be, is ready.

Birds Flocked up Early
A new season brings new challenges. Record warm temperatures mock the conditions of just one year ago, where heavy snows and unseasonably cool weather had the April turkeys thinking it was January. While we likely won’t hunt in snow this year, we’re going to be dealing with birds that are much further along in terms of the spring breeding season than in even a “normal” year. But when it rains lemons, go ahead and make…..the best of the early spring weather. There’s no more excuses folks, it’s beautiful out right now. The birds are gobbling. All times of the day. Get out there! The shed antlers have long been devoured by my little friends of the woods. Get up early and pin down some roost sites! Fishing can wait, you’ve got all summer. Practice your calling on some live birds in a refuge! I started my pre-season much earlier about 10 years ago, mostly because I found myself frustrated with how “good” I felt I was by the end of May, and how “poor” I was in April. You lose your turkey sense, your woods sense, and some of your common sense when going after the first birds of the season, so if you can get that out of the way early, you’ll be more successful this spring.

Jake Competing For Hens
What specifically can you do? It’s really easy. Get out with birds. Somewhere, anywhere. If you don’t want to mess up your spots, find a refuge, a roadside, a WMA. While you have to practice your calling, you don’t necessarily need to call at birds. The jury’s still out on what effect that has on your hunt, at least in my book. I’ve seen it work both ways. What you do have to do, is simply re-learn all the lessons you’re in-tune with after your hunts. Move your eyes, not your head. Don’t drag your feet, pick them up. Lower and slower is better than upright and faster. “Hunt” your way to your destination, even though you’ll likely kill few turkeys on the way to a location. Use your binoculars to scan through brush before trudging through to see with your plain eyes what’s on the other side. What’s the effective range of my shotgun? How far is 50 yards really? What’s more comfortable and lets you sit still the longest? Knees up, down, one-knee up? How much movement can I get away with before I bust them? Where should I start in the morning? What are the hens doing? What call sounds better to the most birds, my box call or my mouth call? Answering these questions and more pre-season makes you twice as deadly in-season.

Use Binoculars to scan Through Brush
Spring is a busy season, I get it. The grass needs mowing, argh. All the spring projects that have been dreamed up for you are expected to be set in motion. Even turkey and deer hunting related projects like stand-hanging, prescribed burning, food plotting are weighing heavily on your mind. It’s hard to find the time to get out hunting, let alone to pre-hunt. So, on a limited budget of time, money, or both, what’s the best bang for your buck? All else being equal, I’d rate rehashing your turkey hunting experiences of old, particularly re-reading journal or log-book entries right up there. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn about the “how” and “why” you killed a gobbler of yesteryear when you’re many months removed from the happening. Knowing exactly what you want to do when faced with the many scenarios of a turkey hunt is a premium that people but guides and veterans enjoy. Maybe next on the list I’d make sure that you perform some calling practice, and not just any practice, but “practice-with-a-purpose.” Dream up scenarios. Force yourself to make the perfect call the first time. Kee-kee the first time you put the call in your mouth, don’t be satisfied that you can do it after 3 previously failed attempts. Shutting up a gobbler you worked on all morning because you tried to get cute and didn’t nail it just isn’t a lot of fun. Lastly, shoot your gun or bow. Especially the bow-hunters, turkeys aren’t forgiving when it comes to shot placement, and pie-plate whitetail accuracy doesn’t cut it for America’s number-one gamebird. Being familiar with your weapon of choice is a true-confidence builder, and that Browning of mine feels more like an old friend, or my left forearm, by the time we hit the woods.

I won’t pretend that everyone should prepare the same, but however you do it, hit the woods with confidence in your gear, your shooting, and yourself. A few weeks in, on low sleep, and sometimes lower turkey self-esteem, you’ll need all that to fall back on when the gobbler on the ridge flies downhill when you’re uphill, and then the next day drops down up top when you hunt below him.

Joel




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Joel Nelson
IDO Hunting Pro-Staff


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rochy
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Re: 2012 Turkey Hunting Primer new [Re: Joel Nelson]
#705127 - 04/09/12 08:32 PM

Great read Joel!

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John_Steinhauer
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Re: 2012 Turkey Hunting Primer new [Re: rochy]
#705131 - 04/10/12 01:19 AM

Awesome read!!

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John_Steinhauer
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Re: 2012 Turkey Hunting Primer new [Re: rochy]
#705132 - 04/10/12 01:19 AM

Awesome read!!

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Tru-Fire Pro Staff
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Brad Juaire
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Re: 2012 Turkey Hunting Primer new [Re: John_Steinhauer]
#705151 - 04/10/12 11:25 AM

Thanks Joel for sharing your incredible turkey knowledge with us. This article is a prime example and a direct correlation to why you've been so successful and consistent killing turkey after turkey throughout the years. Your mental and physical preparation tips above are truly the reasons that lead to hunter success.

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Brad "Grifter" Juaire
IDO Pro Staff
brad.juaire@in-depthoutdoors.com




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Bob Bergeson~
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Re: 2012 Turkey Hunting Primer new [Re: Brad Juaire]
#705161 - 04/10/12 05:05 PM

Great advice Joel

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todders
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Re: 2012 Turkey Hunting Primer new [Re: Bob Bergeson~]
#705173 - 04/10/12 09:55 PM

Great article Joel! I can not wait to get in the woods this spring ! Do you have some good links or utube videos that can accelerate my learning curve about why and when turkeys make specific sounds?

"friends of the forest"? Some of us like sheds...

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You can't catch it or kill it sitting on your couch!


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Jason Ramthun
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Re: 2012 Turkey Hunting Primer new [Re: todders]
#705178 - 04/11/12 07:39 AM

Great stuff Joel

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Jason "GMAN" Ramthun


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