OUTDOOR COLUMN: Try turkey hunting this year

It’s a good year to try something new. Turkey hunting can challenge even the seasoned hunter, and it’s a great excuse to get up early and get out.

Spring Turkey Youth Weekend is fast approaching – April 23-24 – and the regular season arrives soon after, May 1-31. There are some important things to know before heading out into the wilderness in search of a turkey to harvest.

What you need to know before you go

Turkeys are intelligent creatures with laser-sharp eyesight. This sight compensates for their lack of sense of smell and turkeys can detect the slightest movement, so chasing them can be a challenge. For this reason, many beginners (and even advanced turkey hunters) choose to hunt from a ground blind. A ground blind is a portable structure with mesh sides that hunters sit in while hunting. It obstructs the view of the turkey while allowing the hunter to see out.

Identification

Learning to distinguish between adult toms and younger jakes, as well as knowing the difference between male and female turkeys, sounds simple but it’s important. It may be surprising how similar these turkeys can be from far and wide.

According to the NWTF, adult male turkeys are generally larger and more colorful than their female counterparts, with red, white and blue colors being noticeable on the head and neck. The feathers of a male turkey will also be closer to black and have a more vivid sheen, while a female turkey will generally have a browner appearance. Don’t assume a bird is a male if it has a beard – about 10% of hens can have beards as well.

Practice

Before you go hunting, it is crucial that you practice with your weapon, be it a shotgun or a bow. Security is the most important thing, followed by consistency. Allow plenty of time before opening day. In the woods while hunting is NOT the time to hone your shooting skills. This should have been done before the hunt.

Also be sure to check the local regulations of where you will be hunting.

The right equipment

Beyond researching and knowing the basics, selecting the right gear is crucial or you’ll face an uncomfortable hunt. There’s so much hardware on the market – some good, some bad – that it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices. I’ve selected gear that I know works, to help beginners get rid of the clutter. (Note: These clothing choices are designed for women.)

Trousers: The Prois Tintri pants are the perfect pants for early to mid-season turkey hunting. Retailing for $129.99, the Tintri Pants feature a newly improved design, with a water-resistant finish. The waistband is designed to conform to a woman’s natural waistline with a hidden elastic waistband with velcro closures. The pants have large zippered pockets on the front, back and on the thighs. They also feature an athletic fit with articulated knees for easy maneuverability.

Jacket: The lightweight Prois Olann Merino Jacket will keep hunters comfortable while calling gobblers. The Olann Merino Lightweight Jacket is naturally antimicrobial, odor resistant, moisture wicking, provides UV protection, is naturally static resistant and the fibers are much finer than traditional wool. The jacket sells for $229.99.

Vest: The ALPS OutdoorZ NWTF Grand Slam Turkey Vest has everything a turkey hunter would want in a vest. It’s the ultimate turkey hunting tool. Available in Mossy Oak Obsession or Mossy Oak Bottomland, this vest’s features are top-notch and carefully thought out. The vest features a “sit anywhere” kickstand frame and thick padded flip-up seat, a smartphone pouch that allows the user to use the phone while still in the bag, and a storage pocket. call for removable diaphragm. Other features include shell loops, H2O compatibility, side compression straps, two water bottle pockets,
shoulder straps and a protective and silent call pocket. It retails for $239.99.

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