It won’t be long before Old Man Winter relinquishes his grasp and signs of spring start popping up. If you’re on this website, reading this story, you know what that means: deafening gobbles, coarse beards and vibrant fans inching over ridgetops. My questions for you: Are you ready for turkey season? Do you know where you’re going to hunt? If your answer to both of these questions is no, then read on. There’s still time to do some spring speed scouting and find a plump public-land butterball deserving of an arrow.
Go Ahead…Stay In That La-Z-Boy
Before you jump in the truck and start burning up the blacktop in search of birds, you need to develop a plan. First, jump on the website of the game and fish department of the state you plan to hunt. I’ve been impressed with the amount of “turkey ink” state game and fish agencies have put on their sites as of late. Take the great turkey state of Kansas, for instance, which is crawling with ready-to-be-skewered longbeards. After logging onto http://kdwpt.state.ks.us, clicking on the Hunting tab and then the Turkey Information tab, I was directed to a page filled with a great deal of need-to-know turkey info. Most impressive is the constantly updated Spring Turkey Atlas. This handy guide shows the bowhunter-accessible public-land tracts where turkeys live. Also on the page are other “clickable” tabs like Spring Turkey Regulations, Turkey Research Information and the previous year’s Spring Turkey Harvest Report.
When I first decided to embark on a public-land turkey sojourn to the state of Kansas, this is where I started. In less than one hour of studying past regional and statewide harvest estimates and then using that harvest information in conjunction with the Spring Turkey Atlas to locate public tracts in high-success (greater than 50-percent) areas, I had a plan.
Make The Call
Don’t move away from that crackling fire just yet. Now that you have a few locations to hunt in mind, call the biologist responsible for the region or area you plan to hunt. How do you find out which biologists handle specific areas? Easy – call your state game and fish headquarters and ask for his/her number.
State biologists spend their time in the field, not behind a desk, and they know where the birds are. They can give you further detail about the tract or tracts you’re looking at. They can also give you up-to-date hatch count and predation stats.
Two years ago, I bounced my public-land spots off of a biologist in Oklahoma. He let me know that two of my spots were great, but the third had burned up and wasn’t holding many birds. He also directed me to some other spots to try while in the area.
It’s Not Too Late
As you can see, there is a lot of scouting you can do from the comfort of your own home. So, if you haven’t started looking for that spring hot-spot, follow these steps and find yourself a few 2015 longbeard haunts.
Editor’s Note: I hunt turkeys on public land each and every year. If it’s my first time to a new public destination, I always follow the steps listed above. Check back soon for more articles and videos from my spring stick-and-string turkey season on public dirt.