National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Convention & Pre-Season Tips

Wild turkey

This past weekend, I was in Nashville, Tenn., for the National Wild Turkey Federation National Convention. Because I am an avid turkey hunter and champion turkey caller, I spent most of my time either judging or acting as emcee for the calling contest. WOW, what a treat!

The best callers across the country were there. Some of the sounds that these guys and gals were making were truly unbelievable. At one time, I thought they actually had feathers on the stage.

The exhibit hall had anything and everything a hunter needs for the spring season. This is also a good place to ask questions to some of the top pro hunters, which reminded me that turkey season is almost here!

Here’s a few of my pre-season tips that may prepare you for the upcoming season:

Scout early and often. There are several different ways to scout. One would be visual the other would be listening

During the winter months, most of the turkey sign will be in the woods. Look for fresh scratching in the leaves. Look for fresh tracks in the road. Cover as much ground as you possibly can, making sure you pay attention to creeks, fences, gullies or any obstacles that may hang up a wary old gobbler. I also find deer sheds during these scouting trips. 

My favorite way to scout is by listening. Find the highest ridge top on the property that you are hunting. Wait ‘til daylight begins to break, and use a locator call that fits the area you hunt. In my area, I prefer the barred owl. Hunter’s Specialties makes several locator calls -- look these up at  

The limb shaker or the hooter work well in my area. I will stay close to the vehicle on most of my listening trips, as soon as I feel I have heard the gobblers in that area, I drive down the road to the next spot. The first 30 minutes after daylight is when the peak gobbling will occur. The area I hear the highest number of gobblers is where I usually spend opening morning. 

Looking and listening in the pre-season will help you fill your tags this coming spring.

by Steve Cobb