My oldest son and I start off every turkey season with a youth day hunt. Youth day turkey season begins in Virginia this year on April 5th. This is available for hunters 15 years old and younger. Visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/regulations/turkey.asp for more information.
Spring gobbler is a fun and exciting time of the year to be in the woods. There are all of the smells of spring, leaves are budding on the trees, and the warming weather has you feeling like winter has finally ended. Before long we’ll be hearing sounds of big old long-beard’s gobble drumming through the woods from high above in his treetop roost just as the sun is peaking over the mountains in the distance. The evening before our big hunt we’ll be out there just before dark watching just to see where he’s going to roost for the night. We’ll be careful not to get to close! This isn’t long-beard’s first rodeo so we can’t let him bust us! With a little luck he’ll still be there in the morning. We’ll be there waiting and listening before daylight for that tell-tale sound of old long-beard’s gobble that will come quickly after my son blows on his Redhead locator call. If he is still where we put him to bed, we’ll quickly get set up and perhaps do a little soft calling just so he knows we’re interested in doing business. Too much calling and we’ll spook him. With a little patience and a lot of luck, he’ll leave his hens in the roost at daylight and head our way. You’ll know he’s almost committed by the sounds of his wings pounding the ground as he lands and the rustle of the leaves as his dance begins. Strutting as he circles ever closer in our direction with an occasional gobble to confirm he’s also interested. Hopefully he’ll get closer and closer until he’s in shotgun range and at that point I’ll whisper “take um!” and my son will release a single 20 gauge round in his direction! Success? We’ll soon find out.
Until that day there’s still homework to be done. “Homework” yes, there’s homework, but it is enjoyable and rewarding. Weeks before the season starts almost every evening we’ll get on the ATVs and cruise around our farm scouting, looking for birds and watching them. I’m making mental notes of things like what the birds are feeding on, which fields they frequent, how many toms are in the group and where they like to roost. For me, it’s homework that’ll pay off big in the upcoming weeks when I’m calling the long-beards in for one of my buddies or a guest. But for my boys, it’s spending time with dad and doing cool things that many kids will never experience. Not to mention, this is a special time of the year for me to spend time with my sons and build some memories.
Will our homework pay off? Only time will tell. But, my son and I will be out there on opening day as well as many of my buddies with they’re sons and daughters. So I encourage all parents who have sons and daughters old enough to safely handle a firearm to take them on a turkey hunt.
If you don’t have property of your own to hunt on, that’s not a problem. Virginia has 39 wildlife management areas (WMA) and 203,000 acres available to all licensed hunters. I’ve personally participated in many successful WMA hunts. Visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wmas for more information.
Hope to see you out there!