Spring Turkey Hunting

January 29, 2009 by  

By Jason Phillips

The still silence of the morning was interrupted by the distant sounds of a turkey making his presence known. Weeks of scouting and preparation had lead to this moment and everything seemed to be falling into place. I answered his call with a few scrapes on my slate. As the distinct call became closer and closer, anticipation mounted. I was taking part in my first spring turkey hunt and soon came to recognize the mystic of this truly American game bird.

The excitement of a trophy gobbler approaching into shotgun range rivals any outdoor adventure. The challenges are also apparent. Turkeys have keen senses and are very wary birds. Therefore it is essential to blend into the surroundings when pursuing this challenging game bird. Honing calling skills and the use of one or two turkey decoys can significantly improve your chances of harvesting a bird. Scouting is essential to success, since the wide open spaces of the state can make finding birds very challenging. It is never too early to begin scouting and finding birds when there is still snow on the ground can help narrow down the area in which you plan to setup in the spring. Early scouting can also provide the opportunity to talk to landowners about the habits of turkeys in the area.


When the season arrives it will be a lot easier to determine where birds are roosting if you have done pre-season scouting. Once you have located and successfully determined where the birds roost you must coax them into shotgun range. A technique that has proven successful for me has been hunting

turkeys with a partner. Since the competition for licenses in the state is relatively high, chances are pretty good that one of your hunting buddies may not get a license. Hunting as a team can give your buddy the opportunity to get into the turkey woods, and also provide you with a valuable teammate.

Two man turkey hunting not only allows you to share the excitement of the hunt, but also increases the odds of success. Synchronizing calling can make it more difficult for the turkeys to pinpoint your exact location. Each bird reacts differently to calling and each will approach your calls differently. Being prepared for any type of approach is essential to success. If you are hunting with a partner it is important to develop a calling game plan for different situations. You must be prepared for aggressive birds that run directly at you when you call or the silent gobblers that try to sneak up on you. Your hunting partner can help to ensure that turkeys don’t catch you off guard.

The North Dakota spring turkey season runs from April 12 to May 11 and applications must be postmarked no later than February 12. You can also order them online at the ND Game & Fish Department . Areas adjacent to the Missouri River in the western portion of the state have the highest number of licenses available. Licenses are also available in other regions of the state but the numbers available vary greatly. Turkey numbers have been fairly consistent over the years but an increased focus by the National Turkey Federation in the state may lead to increased turkey numbers which will equate to increased license availability statewide.

I recently attended a National Wild Turkey Federation banquet in the southeastern part of the state. The banquet demonstrated the increasing interest and focus on preserving and enhancing wild turkey numbers and habitat. Despite the fact that only a small fraction of the licenses are available in the southeastern area of the state, support for the organization at the banquet was very strong. It is exciting to see the renewed interest in this game bird.

Now is the time to start getting ready for the turkey season, the first step is sending in your application. Mark the deadline on you calendar. If you are fortunate enough to get drawn for a spring turkey license, do your homework, and you will definitely enjoy the hunt.


One Comment on "Spring Turkey Hunting"

  1. Matt on Fri, 15th Apr 2011 11:40 am 

    Question: what kind of strategy do you recommend when its 30 degrees outside and there’s 40 mph winds? Wandering and spotting isnt working well for us. The birds arent vocal and we likely wouldnt hear them anyway. So far, the best we could figure was to grab a case of beer and deck of cards and stay in the cabin. Not a good spring season so far.

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