Spring Turkey 2016 By: Karley Costello
As a born and bred Nebraska girl, spring turkey has always been a fun time for my family and friends. One of my favorite things about spring turkey season is waking up early and walking into the woods an hour or two before sunrise, and listening to the turkey’s gobble as they wake up and prepare to leave the roost. If you have never been spring turkey hunting, listening to the entire property light up with gobbles is one thing you will never forget. With turkey season right around the corner, I’d like to share some tips for being prepared for turkey season.
How to prepare for Spring Turkey season 2016:
First, make sure you scout of your hunting area, whether that be public or private, make sure to go out before spring turkey season even opens and scout out and pattern the birds. This can be a fun experience for both you and your kids, as well as very rewarding. Something my family always does is sets a weekend aside to do this together. Not only can you learn where the birds are at particular times of day and maybe even find an area they like to roost for your ambush points but it is also an excellent time to do some shed hunting. Killing to birds with one stone (so to speak).
Second, prepare for the season. I like to do this by getting my weapon ready first, and getting out into a safe place to shoot your weapon of choice, if that is bow, I suggest making sure your sights are all on target by doing some practice shooting at a few different distances and from a sitting position. If you plan to shoot turkeys only during shotgun season, make sure to take a few practice shots before heading into the field as well. Another thing you may want to do for preparation is get your decoys out and ready to hit the field. One thing many people forget in the preparation process is to practice your calling, nothing is worse than getting out into the field and not being keen on your calls. This is particularly important during spring turkey because this is when all those mouth, slate and box calls come in handy.
Third, hit the field. Now that you have prepared for the season by shooting your weapon a few times, scouting good places to shoot birds. Now the time has come to actually do the job of putting some white meat on the table. One thing I learned in my years of turkey hunting is that I love listening to them gobble back to my calls but not to over call. You are only hurting yourself by calling too much. When you hear a gobbler answering, he is on his way to your call, no need to over call and scare him off. The purpose for using hen calls is to entice the male into thinking he is coming to a hot hen. Your calls are to move his feet. When one calls too much, your location is given away before he even reaches your stand or blind. Once you get that gobbler into range of sight the important thing is to remember to let him come into your decoys (if you’re hunting with decoys). He needs to get consumed with coming into the decoys because he will most likely be willing to fight for the hen if you are using a Jake/Tom decoy. Waiting for him to get soaked into the decoys ensures you a better chance of not getting picked off while you draw your bow. Your next step is to take aim and pull the trigger.
Fourth, now that you have your turkey down, make sure to get the meat on ice as soon as possible. You don’t want to put in all this effort for your meat to go bad. If you plan on keeping the fan, make sure to cut it off carefully as well as any other part of the feathers you’d like to keep. But the problem now is, what are you going to do with your meat?
Fifth, learn how to cook wild turkey. One of my favorite recipes to use is bacon wrapped smoked wild turkey breast. This recipe requires time and patience. First, take the turkey out and let it thaw and cut off any parts that may be bad or freezer burned. While the turkey thaws I like to prepare a brine and let it soak in that for 12 to 24 hours. Brine recipes can be found online, one that I like a lot includes: water, kosher salt, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and a combination of homemade spices.
After leaving the turkey in the brine for 12-24 hours, pat dry the turkey and score the top and sides if doing an entire bird, rub with seasonings of your choice. Next, slather the bird with a generous mixture that is an equal combination of bourbon, brown sugar, and honey. I then like to wrap the breast and or whole bird with strips of thick cut bacon, you can use tooth picks to keep the bacon stuck to the turkey. After doing so I smoke it with hickory wood until an internal temp of 170 degrees in breast and 180 degrees in thighs and tent the turkey to let cool slowly and then slice the turkey thin with bacon still attached and serve.
Good luck this spring and enjoy this recipe!
Spring Turkey 2016 By: Karley Costello