Turkey season is here

Turkey Season is here!

Turkey Season is here!

By John Garner

For The Courier

Another year has come and gone. The seemingly long winter is coming to an end, and the weather is finally turning. It’s time for the trees to start blooming, the grass to start growing and for people to start stirring.


But for the outdoorsman, there is also a big event on the horizon, and that’s turkey season! Nothing brings in the spring like the start of turkey season.

This year brings with it many changes from last season, socially and politically, but the one thing that remains the same for the outdoorsman is the start of the spring turkey season.

I have had the pleasure of hunting many different animals in my lifetime but the spring turkey is by far my favorite. I love being outdoors no matter what I’m doing, but there is something about being in the woods in the spring listening to the birds singing, feeling that warm sunshine, smelling all the fresh smells, seeing the new blooms, and of course, the ever-so-present gobbles of that big ole tom. The weather plays a vital role in the turkeys’ daily routines, so I think that is what we will discuss this year.

We have had a fair amount of rain this year, and it is still cold. Although we are at the start of turkey season, it is still really cold at night and yet it warms up to a very nice temperature by mid-afternoon.

Will that play a role in my success as a turkey hunter? Well of course it will.

These days South Carolina weather is very unpredictable. I don’t know whether to take a coat, an umbrella or a pair of flipflops, as I just don’t know what to expect with the weather anymore. Regardless, we have the weather we have, so we must deal with it. Let’s take a look at some of the things we need to consider in order to be successful on our hunt.

When it is cold in the mornings, the birds seem to fly down a little later than if it was warmer, so there is no need to be in a big rush on those cold days. I like to get to my areas under the cover of darkness, but this can also work against you, as it has me on many occassions.

As I get older, I tend to want to wait until the sun peeks up before I actually start my hunt. I have learned that the sun coming up in the morning plays a huge part in when the birds will fly down. Of course, I want to be as close as possible when the birds fly down, but I also don’t want to spook them as I go in. I like for the woods to start moving a little before I try to make my grand entrance. I think it’s always better to let the animals get to moving before I decide to try and enter their living areas, which they know much better than I do.

Usually, I really don’t see a lot of movement from the turkeys until the sun has risen high and it has warmed up. That’s when you really start to see the birds making their way to and from the open fields in search of their favorite girlfriend. I try to watch and observe before I start yelping and clucking, as I know I cannot compete with the real thing.

You really need to see if the toms are “henned up,” if the birds are still grouped up or if the hens are already nesting. The weather will play a big role in all of this.

I have found over the years that if we have a warmer than usual Febuary, then the hens will nest early and by the time turkey season rolls around the action is already over. This year is different. We have had a lot of rain, which also means it stays colder longer, so I think this year will be a very good season for most hunters, as the breeding season should be right on time with the warmer weather.

In the past, if you didn’t hunt the first week of the season your chances of success were very slim, but not this year. I think it will be good weather for turkey hunting the whole month of April instead of just the first week.

One of the biggest mistakes I see hunters make every year is they tend to leave the woods too soon, as they think that when it gets mid-day the turkeys all bed down. Not true. The turkeys will keep moving as long as the weather is in their favor. If it is nice and mild, stay longer. The birds don’t just bed down because it’s noon!

If the weather is nice, they will still be turkeys and will still want to entertain each other. When the groups bust up, this is the perfect time to catch that tom off-guard, as he is still searching for his beauty queen. Stay with it.

Finally, it is cold, so dress appropriately and always carry more than you need. It is a lot better to have too much than to be cold because you didn’t bring enough. I can always take clothes off. Before you start out on your hunt this season, make sure you have adequate clothing and be prepared for the weather, cold or warm. Good hunting!