Iowa’s Spring Turkey Seasons Begin April 13

Iowa DNRIowa’s turkey flock had an excellent hatch in 2014 leading to the possibility that hunters should see increased opportunities to harvest a bird during the 2015 spring turkey season.

The younger birds, called Jakes, are often more vulnerable, responding to calls in  groups and competing among themselves to see which one can get to the call first. The older Toms are can be more cautious and reluctant to respond to the sirens temptations.

“We’re still seeing good groups of turkeys in winter flocks, but they will be breaking up soon as we head into the breeding season,” said Jim Coffey, forest wildlife species technician for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Iowa has turkeys in every county with higher numbers being found in areas where there is a more diversified mixture of timber with agriculture.

Coffey, who participates in spring turkey hunting seminars geared toward first time and novice hunters, said confidence is key and that confidence comes from talking to other turkey hunters, spending time in the woods and learning from your mistakes.

“The number one piece of advice I can give is to pattern your gun before going out. This is the sport of one shot – you need to know what that shot will be when you pull the trigger,” he said. “Don’t get hung up on calling – but understand when to call. A common mistake is calling too much.  You want to tease the bird. Once you call, stay put, because he knows where you are.”

Hunters can help increase their chance of harvesting a bird by sharpening woodsmanship skills; learn when to move and when to stay still, and about the biology and habits of the bird.

Coffey said turkeys have excellent vision so hunters who use the timber to blend in to the background may see more birds. He also said scouting is important. Understanding what the bird wants to do biologically is important to us as hunters.

“Watch the turkeys, understand the turkeys and realize we are playing on his home court. Position yourself between where they are, and where they want to go is a key to success,” he said.

At the end of the day, only about one-third of spring turkey hunters actually bag a turkey but most don’t use that as a measuring stick for success.

“The experience in the woods with your kids or with friends; watching the timber come alive with wildlife and the newness of spring that’s what it’s all about,” Coffey said. “It’s really something pretty special and I would hope that our turkey hunters share it by taking their neighbor or child or spouse along this year.”

Sidebar: Hunting Atlas Available Online

Hunters have a new tool that may improve their in the field experience even before opening day.

The Iowa hunting atlas is an interactive map that shows all 680,000 acres of public hunting land that is owned by the state, county or federal governments. The atlas is available online at www.iowadnr.gov/hunting. A mobile version is also available.

A click on an area will show basic information like zone and open season, and links to maps, if available.

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