By JIM FOSTER
Special to the Parade
Driving around one of the ranches in South Texas, two things were very obvious. First, South Texas needs more rain badly, and second, the Rio Grande sub-species of wild turkey are almost ready to begin their breeding season.
Many experienced hunters believe the wild turkey is one of the hardest of game to hunt one on one. Having eyesight that is 10 to 12 times better than ours, it’s hard to stalk an old gobbler. The turkey’s eyes are located on the sides of his head, which gives him the ability to see both in front and to the rear at almost the same time.
The wild turkey has excellent hearing and can pinpoint a sound and can tell within a few feet where the sound is located. The turkey’s hearing helps him keep tabs on other turkeys and also alerts him to danger.
Spring hunting with shotguns and calling the gobbler to within range is the most sporting, and watching a gobbler come to you is tons of fun.
Scouting the area you plan to hunt is essential. Find areas having the most turkey sign, or areas where birds have been spotted. If you can’t spend the time scouting before the season opens talk to other hunters or landowners. This will save you valuable hunting time on opening day.
Do some of your scouting late in the afternoon. Toms like to gobble on the roost in the evenings. If you can find a roost, try to start hunting several hundred yards away the next morning but stay clear of the roosting area.
A special note: It’s illegal and unethical to shoot turkeys on the roost. Not to mention the fact that if bothered, they might just move out of the area.
Any successful turkey hunter will tell you that using full camouflage is a must. This includes your face and hands. Many hunters like the camo head nets while others use camo face paint. Don’t forget to camouflage your shotgun.
Hunter’s Specialties Company makes a wide assortment of turkey hunting products, starting with the very basics to the very fancy. One item is a hunting vest that has pockets for everything you could want to carry into the field. It also had a snap-off cushion, camo of course to make your time sitting on the ground more comfortable. It has a large pouch in the back with room for a full-bodied turkey decoy.
A decoy is not required, but after more than 20 years of spring turkey hunting, I have found the decoy will help draw the gobbler’s attention away from you. This might give you the chance to get your shotgun up and ready if the big bird comes in too fast.
Editor’s Note: To see more of Jim’s writing and photography, visit fosteroutdoors.blogspot.com. If you have comments or news for Jim Foster, email him at email@example.com.