Turkey season features odd beginning

April 25, 2018

Faith Outdoors

I was all set to open the spring turkey season last week in southeastern Minnesota. I got drawn for the A Season, and planned to hunt a property with lots of birds on it.

I had taken birds from the property the last two years, both A Seasons. I knew right where I was going to set up my blind. I did so the week before the season, and the area was loaded with turkey tracks.

I was pumped. Then, it all changed with the weekend blizzard that threw a huge wrench into my plans. Unfortunately, my blind was out there in the elements, and I was worried that the snow and wind would destroy it.

I also became apprehensive about hunting the A Season at all. My time was limited, and there were other hunters on the property, including a guy who was going to hunt the weekend and wanted to set up his blind on Friday at the spot I was going to hunt.

What to do? I went down Tuesday afternoon and went to my blind. Fortunately, it was still intact. The only problem was snow on the roof that pushed it down. I didn’t see many tracks in the area, and I decided not to hunt the A Season. In Minnesota, you can buy a license over the counter for the last four seasons (E-F), and you are not required to hunt a season that you are picked in the lottery to hunt. If you want to change, you simply refrain from buying the license for the lottery season, then pick one of the last four seasons and buy a license over the counter.

I chose to do that, and asked the landowner on my way out if I could come back out for Season E. He said yes immediately, and I asked him if many hunters come out during that season. He said no, and that could give me the run of the property. Only problem is, the property gets hit pretty hard by hunters all spring, and the birds are pressured and educated by mid May.

After taking my blind down, I texted the other hunter and let him know I wasn’t hunting, so he could hunt my spot whenever he wanted. I just asked him to let me know how he did.

I got a text from him the afternoon of the second day. He had put up his blind exactly where mine had been, and decided to hunt a little Thursday afternoon. He made some hen sounds one time on a box call, and two toms came walking out into the field. With a few more soft calls from his slate call, the two birds came right in, and he shot one of them.

Too bad for me. Oh well. I really didn’t want to hunt in snow and cold anyway. That’s not turkey hunting to me. I like warm spring days when the grass is green and the leaves are out. So, I will hunt Season E.

I have a couple of friends who own property about an hour north of the Twin Cities. They both have seen birds on their property this fall, and one of them shot a bird on the opening day of Season B. I loaned him a jake decoy, and he took a video of three toms who walked around the jake decoy — after his shot!

I asked permission to hunt his land, and he is open to talking about it. His son may hunt, and he may want to take his son-in-law out and introduce him to the sport. He asked if I would be willing to help his son-in-law, and I said yes. I am hopeful for a chance to hunt there, but the other property sounds good, too. He has seen turkeys there in the fall while deer hunting, but hasn’t hunted there in the spring. In fact, I would be the first hunter on his property all spring.

There’s nothing like unpressured birds, especially late in the spring when hens are sitting on their nests incubating their eggs. They spend most of the day doing that, which means they disappear and the toms are suddenly lonely for the first time all spring.

I have had some quick hunts under these conditions. But, I will need to scout his property to find out if there are birds using it this spring. My friend who owns the land wants to try turkey hunting for the first time, and I said I would take him out.

So, that would be another chance to help a beginner. After more than three decades chasing these birds, I have built up skill and experience that I can share with others. Plus, I like the idea of guiding people and helping them get birds, especially their first one.

But first, I will hunt Season D in Wisconsin. With the late spring, the toms shouldn’t be fading in terms of their interest in breeding. In fact, I have found that late springs usually mean good hunting during the later seasons.

That’s what I am hoping for. Some of the properties have pressured birds, and I might start there to take on the challenge. But, if need be, I have other properties to hunt that have had less pressure.

So, I have lots of options, and spring is finally here!

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek