Spring Turkey-hunting Checklist

Even though there is still snow on the ground in areas, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about the spring turkey-hunting season. Opening day has a way of sneaking up on me, so over the years I’ve taken advantage of those lazy days in late winter and early spring to turn my thoughts toward turkeys.

√Permission
I prefer to hunt private land so now is when I hop in my truck and drive the country roads looking for flocks of turkeys. When I’m fortunate enough to spot birds, I’ll start looking for a farmhouse nearby and ask the resident for permission to hunt there. This is a great time to nail down your hunting spots because not all farmers have gotten into the fields just yet. As long as there is still some snow on the ground you have a good chance of finding these landowners’ homes and not work against their time to get their fields tilled. The last thing you want to do is bother a farmer when he’s in the fields.

It’s important to give the landowner your contact information as well as the season you plan to hunt. And, now is good to get information on where he’s been seeing birds and if there are good spots he can recommend you set up at. Farmers are always in the fields fixing fences, clearing brush, spreading manure, etc., so they know where the birds like to roost, where there is available water and even if the toms have strutting areas they’ve been using often. Don’t forget to ask him where his property lines end and even where to park your vehicle so it’s not in the way should he need to get to that plowed field.

At the end of your season, be sure to thank the landowner and give him a gift. I try to find out if there is a specific restaurant he and his wife like to frequent or if he subscribes to a particular hunting magazine (MidWest Outdoors) and then renew it for him. This small gesture could cement the opportunity for you to hunt their property again next year. I also make sure to let him know what I tagged (jake, tom or nice longbeard). They are curious, and I like to know where the hunters who just finished hunting got their bird from and where they sat. When you don’t “sign out” with the landowner he may think you are trying to hide something. You want to keep your relationship with the farmer good so you can return the following year.

√Blinds
Since I do most of my turkey hunting from a blind, April is when I set it up in the garage to make sure I still remember how to do it. Nothing is more frustrating than getting to that hot spot opening day and forgetting just how to pop it up. The few minutes it takes to refresh your mind with the steps needed in putting up a blind is worth not becoming aggravated down the road. Usually, all I need is to repeat the process about three times and I’m field ready to assemble the blind, even before the sun stretches its rays over the horizon.

Once up, I also inspect the rods to see that they stay securely in what I call their “anchor pockets.” I’ve had to do small repairs on some corner pockets that seem to be under more strain than other slots. Of course, patching small rips and tears is just part of getting a blind in ship shape.

Now is also the time I waterproof the blind I plan to use. I like to apply the product every year rather than waiting for signs of moisture to seep through. The season is short and I sit out in all types of weather, so being dry is important.

√Decoys
Decoys get more realistic and costly every year. For that reason, repairing them is important because I just can’t afford to replace them yearly. Most of the time a hot glue gun will mend any torn seam long enough to get me through a couple more seasons. New stakes can easily be fashioned with an appropriately sized dowel.

√Turkey vest
A quick check of my vest tells me if any pockets have developed holes in them that need mending. My daily paper often comes in an orange plastic sleeve and I like to stuff a few of them in one of the many compartments to use in protecting my calls from moisture when I’m afield. I also make sure I have a place for my flashlight, pruning clippers and a few snack bars.

√Calls
Calls are nearly maintenance free. I do make sure to attach new scratch pads to all my slate calls and check to see I have a piece of chalk to rub on the paddles of the box calls I plan to put in my vest. I check all my strikers for splinters or breaks.

√Clothing
Don’t forget to sort through your hunting clothes. Mother Nature can surprise you with an unexpected snowstorm in April and May, so I always pack a special plastic tub with cold-weather gear. Because we only have a few days to hunt, it’s important to be prepared for anything. A few years ago, I hunted the day after 17 inches of snow fell during my May season so I was really glad to have those extra warm clothes. For those of us who hunt the late season we think of packing rain gear, but usually not a parka.

I will never head out hunting in the spring without wearing ElimiTick® clothing. The Midwest is a hotbed for ticks once the weather warms and this repellent-infused clothing is my first defense against those disease-carrying insects. It is no more expensive than other camo clothing and it works against mosquitoes and no-see-ums as well.

Now is the time for you to review your checklist and know that you are a step ahead for the spring wild turkey season. It’s so much more enjoyable to enter the season prepared and organized.