Blogs > Oneida Outdoors

An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Start preparing for turkey season now

May 1, the opening of turkey season is only a week and half away. Although it may seem like forever to eager turkey hunters, much like a child waiting for Christmas morning, it is really very little time to make preparations for the season. Scouting, patterning your gun and organizing your equipment are all vital components of your success in the upcoming season.

Many hunters have taken advantage of the unseasonably mild weather the past few weeks to scout for turkeys and plan their strategy for opening week. If you haven’t you should make time this weekend or in the days to follow to try and locate birds, as well as pattern them for your early season hunting.

At this time of year the hens will be concerned with the nesting areas, usually pastures of woods with lots of undergrowth for cover. The turkeys will be frequently roosted in tall trees along a hillside where they can easily fly down to open areas directly from the roost. And of course somewhere in the vicinity there is probably an open area used as a strutting ground for the tom to impress the hens.

Since a turkey’s primary defense is its great eyesight, the gobblers like to strut in the open areas. This may include a secluded field, an old pasture surrounded by brush, or even clearcut or woods roads. If you are in the woods and fields keep an eye out for these areas and signs like tracks, droppings or feathers. Be sure to wear camo and move slowly, using cover whenever possible.

Use your binoculars to scout from a distance and avoid spooking birds. And of course avoid temptation and leave your calls at home.

Let’s assume you have located a gobbler’s roosting area, have identified likely strutting zones and morning feeding patterns. Give some serious thought where you want to set up near the roost or along the morning travel route. Too many of us head out to the woods, make a call or two and when the gobbler answers we try to find a place to set up.

Locate likely spots where the birds will come within range with some subtle calling. Do you have an area where you can have good vision of birds coming in to your decoys or set up? You do not want too much brush or obstacles in your way. Have a large tree to rest your back against for both comfort and safety.

Are there obstacles that will cause a gobbler to hang up or not come in close to your calling area? In addition to obvious things like swamps, there are things like stonewalls, fences or small creeks that many a gobbler will refuse to cross when you are calling. Sure, they could cross them easily but remember that you are dealing with a bird that has a brain smaller than a walnut.

Take some time and pattern your gun. If you have not done so before, try different loads to see which pattern best in your gun. Use a turkey head target to see if the gun is centering the pattern at the point of aim. Not all guns and loads will do this.

Check your patterns to see which give you a tight pattern of pellets in the vital neck and head area, and also check to see the effective range of this tight pattern. The most popular gun is a 12 gauge, three inch chamber and full turkey choke.

The effective limit of this gun is about 40 yards, although many hunters limit themselves to 25 yards. Sure, the gun will reach out beyond the 40 yards, but there are too many holes in the pattern at those distances to be effective.

Check out all your camo clothing and have it ready for whatever weather may be on May 1. Take time to test and chalk your box calls, or sandpaper your slate and pencil calls. Practice your diaphragm calls and make sure to rinse them with Listerine and store them in the refrigerator until time to use them. Line up all your accessories like camo gloves, seats, etc. and get your turkey vest or jacket organized and ready to go.

Be sure to get out the insect repellent since bugs will likely be out and searching for prey by opening week.


FUTURE ANGLERS OUTREACH: Once again the FAO with sponsorship and assistance from SHOTS will hold the immensely popular and important event next weekend. The one day event’s sole purpose is to give the basic fishing skills to the entire family so fishing can be a successful experience that they will continue to do on a regular basis. All kids receive a rod and reel, bait and tackle to keep free of charge along with food and drinks to all attendees.

This year’s event will be held at Marion Manor Marina, Oneida Lake on April 29. If you are the parent or guardian of a child that wants to fish, please sign up. This is designed to give basic instruction to youngsters ages 5-12 years and parents with minimal experience. For more information or to register contact Ted Dobs at or call 264-6624.

VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED! Please help with a donation of time to reach our 2012 goal to provide a free day of fishing to 100 area children. Volunteers have one instructor to every child. There are also many other tasks that need attention.

TROUT & SALMON EXPO: The popular Trout & Salmon Expo sponsored by the Mohawk Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited returns to New Hartford this Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. There will be casting contests for kids, clinics in fly tying and casting, and seminars on many types of fishing.

Seminar Schedule: 10:00 –Bill Girvan – Bait Fishing Techniques, 11:00 - Randy Kulig - Fishing the West Canada, 12:00 –Bruce Montoya – Fishing the Salmon River, 1:00 - Dan Josephson – Adirondack Brook Trout, 2:00 - Eric Dresser - “How to” Wildlife Photography, 3:00 - Capt Rick Pecci – Fishing Lake Ontario.

There will be 50 vendors and displays ranging from Trout in the Classroom, wildlife artists Tom Lenweaver and Tom Yacovella, tackle manufacturers and several tackle and equipment manufacturers. Meet book authors Mike Kelly and Spider Rybaak for signed copies of their latest books.

The location is New Hartford Recreation Center on Mill St., just off Kellogg Road. For more information contact Ken Ziobro at

OUTDOORSMEN HALL OF FAME BANQUET: April 28 will be the Annual NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame Banquet held at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. Social hour will begin at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 6 p.m. Highlights will be the individual inductions of the nine new inductees to the Hall of Fame. The public is invited to meet these and other statewide heroes of conservation who have done much to preserve outdoor sports.

Also honored that evening will be S.H.O.T.S., the local organization who has done so much to benefit handicapped and terminally ill hunters and sponsor many programs that benefit the youth. They will be recognized as recipients of the Outdoorsmen of the Year award.

Please turn out and help honor all of these sportsmen. Reservations must be made by April 22 by calling 363-3896 or 829-3588.

YOUTH TURKEY HUNTING WEEKEND: Youngsters who meet the qualifications will have the opportunity to hunt this weekend before the regular season opens on May 1. Eligible hunters are 12-15 years of age and must hold a junior hunting license and a turkey permit.

Youth must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or adult with written permission from their parent or legal guardian. The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and turkey permit. The adult may assist the youth hunter, including calling but may not carry a firearm or bow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.

The bag limit for the youth weekend is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth's regular spring season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken beginning May 1. All other wild turkey hunting regulations are in effect.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home