With the changing legislature this past fall in regards to deer hunting and tagging restrictions or lack thereof, many hunters have overlooked another addendum to the rule changes.
The fall turkey season will run through January 7th this year the Sunday closest to the 5th of the first month in accordance to the ending of the deer bow season. To most this is a moot point as hunters have put away their camouflage and guns for their ice gear and augers.
For the few diehards that are willing this is the time of the year where you will have more turkey action than any other time. IF you find them. This time of the year you can count on two things with turkeys. One they will be flocked up and two they will be near a food source. Find the later and the first will be a sight you will enjoy.
I have taken the boys on turkey hunts where we have encountered in excess of 200 birds and nearly one third of those were mature toms.
Once the birds are located is when the real test will begin. Late season turkey hunting like this will test your fortitude in the winter weather.
During this time of the year a person has to fight Mother Nature’s elements in addition to the birds. Cold weather, wind and snow all bring about different sets of circumstances to overcome. Keeping dry and warm while staying hidden is the key to success. I often time like to bring a snow camouflage set up. You need to think opposite of conventional wisdom however. The legs should be white and your torso and head should be brown.
This is because when you set up next to a tree your legs will be in the snow and your back against the base of a dark tree. The added thing to think about is when you are sitting in the snow you will need a barrier between your bottom and the snow otherwise you will get wet and it will have a chance to freeze. This will shorten your time outdoors.
When hunting morning birds, I like to find where they are feeding and get set up before it gets light out. Often times the birds are roosted right next to their feeding grounds. They do not want to leave the area and walk far and spend more energy. I am sure they are also more comfortable with their surroundings.
If you do perhaps bump the birds they will typically again not go far as they do not want to burn extra reserves of energy. Get out of sight and wait and they should come back in although it might take some time. Birds do not do much in the winter time as far as travel and exploring they are in survival mode.
In case you are going on an evening hunt I try to find a spot right near the roost area. They will be out to feed and you can sneak in from the back side of the roost area. Birds will often times walk below their roost trees to check out the area before backing out and then flying up.
Finally remember that this time of year you do not have a few sets of eyes checking you out, you will have multitude of eyes checking you out. If the first few birds bust you might be out of luck but if the middle of the group gets nervous do not panic. Turkeys are not the smartest in communicating and when an alarm putt goes off the ones that did not make the noise have no idea why it happened and may even get closer to you. Be patient and hold tight as not every bird has witnessed you giving up your spot.
Do not hesitate to take a nice boss hen out either, they make excellent table fare and won’t go stealing your toms in the spring. On top of that if you can skin it out and place the hide over an old turkey decoy making a new decoy that works 100x better.
There are tags to be bought and if you are bored and can weather the storm this is the time to add a little excitement to your winter doldrums. Enjoy the extended season and keep your powder dry.