Unless you quail hunt, chances are your shotgun has been sitting since dove season ended. But get ready to dust it off because turkey season is almost here.
It’s perhaps the most challenging hunt that Texas or any other state has to offer. The spring turkey hunt can be incredibly exciting… and horribly frustrating.
“It’s really exciting when you hit that call and you hear that gobbler 200 yards away, and then you hit it again a few minutes later and he’s half the distance and you know he’s coming. That gets the excitement going,” said Matt Reidy, a Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist.
It’s when he doesn’t come that it gets frustrating. You’re trying to get one of the sharpest-eyed, keenest-hearing creatures in the woods to do something against his very nature.
Male turkeys gobble so breeding hens will know where he is. By calling, you’re trying to get him to come to what he thinks is a willing hen.
“When they’re coming in, they’re going to be drumming, they’re going to be strutting, they’re going to gobble,” Reidy described. “Having that bird that close to you strutting and doing his thing, moving around, it’s pretty neat. It’s exciting, it gets your blood pumping for sure.”
The blood should be pumping for a lot of hunters this spring. Reidy says that the rain the past couple of years and fair winters have made conditions almost perfect.
“Turkeys are starting to move. I’ve actually gotten calls from people who are seeing turkeys where they haven’t before, so they’re moving to their areas where they’re going to start nesting and that kind of thing,” Reidy explained.
Reidy also added that two years of rain should mean plenty of birds as well.
“Could be groups of five, 10, 20, 30 birds, and you can have multiple gobblers coming around trying to break those hens off,” he said.
And once the hens are bred, the gobblers will look even harder to find ones who haven’t bred. That might make it easier for hunters to fool them.
“But trying to call that male in, make him think there’s a receptive hen or possibly another male that he’s going to fight off of the hens that he’s looking for, so that’s the part that makes it exciting,” Reidy said.
The south zone opens on March 17 and runs through April 29. The north zone is open from March 31 to May 13.
You can kill four turkeys but they have to be gobblers or bearded hens.