Spring gobbler season comes earlier here in Tennessee than on the east coast. But being prepared, wherever you live, will tilt the scale in your favor for taking your limit on turkey this season. I learned a hard lesson recently and if you read a recent post you'll remember how I emphasized patterning your gun before you hunt.
Well, I'm going to push that advice a bit further: Pattern your shotgun, and frequently, especially if you are testing different loads and using different after-market chokes. With all the recent ballistic innovations, to include the combination of different sizes of shot in the same load, the actual composition of pellets, the various velocities to consider and even the shapes of shot, to mention just some of the things that you need to consider, there are a lot of variables to factor into your final selection of the best load for your gun, with your chosen choke. And with more variables, unfortunately, comes more work to do.
To prepare further, at least for me, I think it's really important to scout my hunting habitat before the season opener. Let's face it, birds have patterns and some of the older gobblers can be wary of hunters. But sometimes it is as important to know where they are feeding, as well as where they are roosting; study their terrain and their proximity to manmade or otherwise, natural feed plots. In the off-season, I see turkey all the time out of the woods and in open fields. Birds wander into the fields because there is food there. And somewhere in those woods is where they roost. Part of being a successful turkey hunter is finding out exactly where those roosts are so I can be there in the morning to call them down.
I would also submit that you should have already tried out and selected the turkey calls you want to use, even tested them in the woods before the season opens. There are many to choose from: RedHead, Down-n-Dirty diaphragms, Pittman Game Calls and Primos. See if they resonate with the flock that you're hunting.
Also, being properly camouflaged and staying dry and warm in the right hunting jackets or coats is very important. In colder climates, anyway, I never wanted to feel like a snowman, so bundled up that I couldn't move easily and freely around. This is where I put aside style and ego for comfort and ease of movement.
And whether I choose a ground blind or a tree to rest against, I want to sit comfortably. I do not want my waist or pant legs pulling at me. And to insulate myself from the cold or wet ground, so I can stay as comfortable for as long as it takes for me to call in my bird, I always take a cushion with me. But there are "lounger" and comfort chairs, too, especially if you choose to hunt in a blind.
Don't forget headgear, facemasks and vests, although not totally necessary in a blind. Otherwise, turkeys do have keen eyesight and keen hearing. If you are sitting at the base of a tree, you need to be camouflaged well. Some blaze orange is required, yes, but blending into the ground cover is as important as having the right scratch box or diaphragm mouth calls.
One final level of preparation: don't forget decoys. Again, this was a hard lesson for me to learn. I thought calling would be enough, but not necessarily so. I now realize just how important decoys are for my success in the woods during spring turkey season. Consider RedHead, Dakota Decoy, Avian-X, Primos, along with others.
And this is the obvious and short list. Don't forget safety, knowledge of your surroundings, and tools such as a knife, compass, rope, perhaps even a small shovel. Dreams of taking your limit are always fun and exciting, but never let it overcome the need for good commonsense practices and safety in the woods. Whether we hunt alone, or with our sons, daughters, wives, girlfriends or buddies, we set an example for others to follow. Safe hunting.