Should have planned for turkey season

The Missouri turkey season begins Monday,  April 17. Thousands of turkey hunters fondly look forward to the arrival of the spring season each year.

However, many hunters fail in the field because of poor pre-season preparations.

Planning and preparing for an upcoming season is one of the most enjoyed activities associated with turkey hunting. It has been said that anticipation of an upcoming trip is the larger part of the excitement. 

Turkey hunting addicts spend a lot of time on their beloved sport. However, taking the time to properly plan a turkey hunting trip seems to be a subject that often gets shortchanged. Hunters tend to rely on past experiences to guide their current decisions about where to hunt, when and how to hunt wild turkeys.

Indeed, we do spend far more time thinking about turkey hunting than actually participating. The season is only three weeks each spring, unless you travel out-of-state to extend the season.

The remaining 49 weeks of the year leaves a turkey hunter ample time to think about turkeys, watch videos, read articles and attend sports shows. The lucky guys who own land also spend considerable time managing for wild turkeys through food plot plantings and forest management.

Past experience is certainly a valuable tool in planning a trip. On the other hand, circumstances change annually. Turkey numbers are down about 15 percent nationwide. However, numbers remain solid in some areas.

Good friends of mine recently reported that they have the largest number of turkeys on their property ever. Had I not checked with them, I would have missed a grand opportunity for the upcoming season.

Taking the time, before making a trip, to find out the condition of flocks in your intended hunting area is wise. Nothing is more disappointing than to arrive at a destination only to find that bird populations have plummeted, or that habitat conditions have changed and caused flocks to move altogether.

I recall a farm I had hunted for years. I had free run of the place and did not bother to scout before the season opener. A dismal surprise awaited when I arrived. Much of the farm had been bulldozed. At sunrise, I listened with disgust while gobblers bellowed on a neighboring farm, while I stood and stared at dozer piles.

Ray Eye, a distinguished turkey hunter and friend,  unabashedly tells every turkey hunter in the world that they have to hunt where there are turkeys.

“Unless you simply want to take a nice walk in the springtime woods, you had better know where the birds are,” Eye proclaims. “Just because they were in a given location last year, does not mean that they will be there this year. They are living creatures, which constantly make adjustments to meet their needs.

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