Texas turkey hunting from A to Z includes guide to spring pursuit

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Gobblers strut and cut up to attract attention for various reasons during the spring.

Here’s your Texas turkey hunting guide from A to Z, with tips, tactics and regulations for the spring pursuit.

  • Advance scouting can help you find roost sites and travel corridors.
  • Bring a box call, even if you prefer a slate or mouth call, since the box can spit out louder cackles and bring more attention, especially if it’s windy.
  • Camouflage yourself from head to toe, including gloves and face mask, since turkeys have excellent eyesight.
  • Decoys certainly help bring in social birds, and deploying more than one may entice them even more.
  • Even small variances in the terrain can make a turkey seem farther or closer than it really is, so let the birds come to you instead of going to them.
  • Find a wide tree to sit up against, which will break up your silhouette when you set up to call in birds.
  • Grab a comfortable cushion to pad your derriere, even if you have a turkey vest with a built-in seat, to make it easier on longer waits.
  • Hold still if you can see birds, and if you must move to get a shot, wait until a strutting gobbler is looking away from you.
  • Inspect your setup and get rid of vegetation that may hinder a shot or add cover if you find the perfect tree that’s a little bare.
  • Join in on the calling if you’re not alone to give the impression of multiple birds in an area.
  • Keep proof of sex (leg with spur, patch of feathers with beard) on your bird(s) until you get home and don’t breast them out until at a final destination.
  • Line up your shotgun sights just above the feather line on a turkey’s neck instead of directly at the head so you’ll still see it if it moves and won’t shoot high.
  • Make sure you have a $7 upland game bird stamp (endorsement) on your hunting license.
  • Napping under a big cottonwood or oak is understandable, but stay alert otherwise since early season birds may not be as vocal and could sneak in quietly.
  • Only shoot gobblers or jakes since hens, unless they also have beards, are illegal to harvest in the spring.
  • Pattern your shotgun and get comfortable holding it while sitting on the ground.
  • Quiet, call-shy birds can be had, but setting up an ambush along a travel route likely is your best and only option.
  • Reach for a locator call (owl hooter, crow cackle) if you know birds are in the area but aren’t reacting to your turkey impressions.
  • Set your sights carefully when attempting to shoot, even with a tight turkey choke, especially if hens are near your gobbler.
  • Treat clothes with permethrin, which will kill disease-carrying ticks.
  • Use bug repellent with DEET to deter mosquitoes for the same reason.
  • Vocal birds often won’t cross fences or wade through thick vegetation, so set up to make it easier for them to come in.
  • Watch for snakes, especially during warm afternoons in dense cover.
  • X marks the spot for feeding and dusting areas, so look for tracks or feathers that have fallen off and set up near them if you haven’t had luck elsewhere.
  • You can expect to walk a lot if birds aren’t responding and you’ve got to seek them out, so wear comfortable boots.
  • Zero in on having fun and take along a youth, especially during the youth-only season dates set for March 14-15 and May 9-10 in South Texas and March 28-29 and May 23-24 in North Texas.

Turkey hunting can be tough. It’s a fact proven the hard way. However, there’s no such thing as a bad spring turkey hunt — even the ones that don’t turn out like you expect. All you can do is chalk it up to the next time you’ve got the chance to chase after a wily gobbler and enjoy the scope of the spring panorama. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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