It’s nearing the end of the month and the dogwoods are beginning to blossom, the hog plum trees are already in full bloom and an even better signal that Spring is on the way; the turkeys are gobbling! It’s a grand time to be out of doors and listening to their lusty calling. The hens are flocking together in fairly predictable feeding patterns and the toms are following along behind, counting down the minutes until the girls decide it’s breeding time.
The way the early period is progressing with the local flocks about our county, it’ll be no time at all before those big He-devil, Boss gobblers establish their role in the flocks and begin corralling the hens up into their own personal harems. My prediction is, that by the time the youth opener on March 8th rolls around, any youths fortunate enough to be escorted to their favorite turkey blinds will experience quite a show. As the breeding season progresses, there are peaks and valleys of activity and the first real peak of the year will be coinciding with that weekend.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the Citrus and Chassahowitzka WMA’s and am very pleased with the numbers. Not only have I been conducting track counts to see which flocks are operating where, but with the aid of my 12X50 Barska binoculars, I’m identifying some true trophy toms hanging out along the sandy roads. Now, surely, once the season opens and they begin experiencing pressure from us hunters, the big smart toms will abandon the sandy trails in favor of the open oak flats and firebreaks, not easily seen from the roadways.
Personally, I will be opening the season guiding a twelve-year-old boy to his first gobbler and will be setting up in the open oaks and calling only sporadically. It’s really easy to get caught up with aggressive calling when you’re hearing a lot of turkey talk around you, but once that big Boss of a bird cuts off my calls with a hard gobble; I put away the caller and simply wait him out. Yeah, I know, that’s not the easiest thing to do, but an older bird, especially on public land, has been talked to and tempted by every call off the shelves of the local Walmart and they are wary. It may take them an hour or more for that big tom to silently work into your setup, looking for the hen that they had heard talking dirty to them. But, wait him out…. he’ll be coming. Too many times, in my early turkey hunting career, did I give up and go on back to the truck expecting that the bird had slipped away, only to hear him calling from the spot I’d just left, looking for that elusive hen.
When doing your own scouting, look for drag marks parallel to the gobblers tracks, that tell you that he was strutting as he came by, putting himself on display for the ladies in the area. If his feet are big and his wing’s drag marks are wide, it’s a pretty good indication that you’ve located an older Boss tom. Pay very close attention to the point where his tracks entered the trail and to where they exited the trail and using your knowledge of the area, formulate the best guess of where he came from and to where he was going to in order to plan your opening morning ambush.
It’s going to be a great year for turkey hunting and I truly hope that each of you will take the time to get outdoors and hunt them. Or, in the least, tote along a thermos of coffee and sit in the woods enjoying the sights and sound of those big beautiful birds and sip a little strong brew; you know, so you don’t fall asleep and miss all the action!
For any of you getting outdoors this weekend, I wish you the best of luck! And as always, I’d love to hear about your adventures and maybe see a photo or two of your successes at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!