The hillsides here at The Proving Grounds are slowly getting that green tint to them, the creek is flowing fast, and the gobblers are playing their song every morning. Spring is in the air here, FINALLY! Last year when Missouri turkey season opened, we had plenty of foliage and green leaves. This year’s opening day will be very different. Spring green up is occurring later than it has the last couple of years and the turkeys seem to be on that same schedule.
I’ve been asked several times lately if I’m still seeing a lot of birds in large flocks or winter to early spring flocks. The answer is yes and no. From running the Reconyx cameras to driving across the country side, I’m seeing a lot of birds in large flocks. I’m also seeing the occasional single tom out strutting in a field, but the majority of birds are still in groups. What does this mean? If you ask any turkey hunter who’s spent much time chasing turkeys they will tell you that calling to flocks isn’t nearly as effective as calling to lone gobblers. And why should it be? When a gobbler has an entire flock around him why would he leave them for one hen he can’t see? “Henned up” turkeys can also be indicated by their lack (if any) of gobbling when they fly off the roost in the morning. It will be difficult calling turkeys until they split up and we start finding more lone toms.
With the Missouri turkey season opening soon I thought I would discuss our strategy. Since we’re seeing more flocks than usual for this time of year, our game plan has changed. As much as I enjoy “running and gunning” for turkeys, it probably won’t be on the agenda for opening day this year. Hunting henned up toms that don’t gobble much is more like deer hunting. First we scout with ears, eyes, and Reconyx cameras to find the location where they are most active. Then we move in before sunrise to either a blind or a tree that we have previously picked. Finally, we generally use decoys and keep our calling softer and less aggressive. To me this type of turkey hunting is far less exciting than my favorite running and gunning style, but it can be just as effective if the cards are played right.
We’re only days away from one of my favorite events of the year! I can’t wait to wake up, pull on my LaCrosse boots, and head out in search of a gobbler. Good luck to all the hunters out there and stay safe!
Daydreaming of long beards and long spurs,