Written by: Mike Mancl (@mjmancl)
April is in the rear view and May has officially arrived. For many, turkey hunting is already fading off the radar. With warmer weather and summer in sight it has cued the fishing boats, campers, and other recreational vehicles to begin coming out in full force. If you are a die-hard turkey hunter however, you know that this is the best time of the year to cash in on a late spring gobbler.
I love to hunt the spring green up for several reasons. Unlike the earlier seasons in April, the birds have finally begun to split from their winter flocks. With the exception of hunting off the roost, you can quite often strike a gobbler on the move in search of the next hen he is wanting to breed. This time of the year is also productive because many, if not all of the hens have laid eggs at this point. Therefore a large portion of their day is spent on their nest. This often leaves the gobblers alone, which can make those midday birds much easier to work up.
The green up poses other benefits as well. With foliage beginning to leaf out, and alfalfa fields growing rapidly, many would look at this as a disadvantage. What I discovered over the past several years, to the aggressive turkey hunter, this is the perfect scenario. The green up allows for very favorable stalking conditions to close the distance through either the timber or fields. Having foliage on the trees is great for minimizing noise as well allowing you to close the distance even closer than you could in previous weeks. We have found to have had far greater success with fanning birds during this period as well. My only real conclusion I’ve come up with is our success is due to the fact that we can get closer than normal while still remaining hidden.
My final reason for considering this my favorite time of the year is simply because the turkey woods have now become a ghost town. There are so many other activities people are starting to take part in this time of year that turkey hunting becomes the last thing on their minds. What I’ve come to notice over the past 23 seasons spent in the turkey woods is, the early seasons get all the attention. People hunt for a week or two, get their turkey fix for the year and move on when the weather gets warmer. This leaves the door wide open for those who simply can’t get enough of chasing these birds. Private land access can become quite easy to obtain this time of year also. We have several farms we hunt where access isn’t permitted the first few weeks of the spring, but once family and friends are done hunting we are given the run of the mill to the place. Our property we can hunt nearly triples this time of year and opens up many more options for us. You toss public land access into the mix as well, and it allows a large area of ground to chase birds on.
So before you begin planting those food plots, hanging tree stands, or going to the lake on the weekends, maybe hit the turkey woods one last time before it’s too late. You may find the later weeks to be more fruitful than you previously thought. Side note: Don’t forget the thermacell and a 5 gallon bucket of mosquito spray!