Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
The first of Iowa’s five-part 2023 Spring Turkey hunting seasons begins with a special three-day mentored youth hunt running April 7 – 9. The youth turkey hunt is followed on April 10 with the opening of the first of four regular spring seasons. The spring turkey season’s fourth and final segment concludes on May 14. The daily bag and season possession limit is one bearded or male wild turkey for each valid license issued to the specified hunter.
As always, anticipation for the upcoming seasons is running high. With turkey populations remaining strong across much of the state, hunting enthusiasts are already pacing the floor. But there are better things for preseason hunters to do than wearing a hole in the living room carpet. Time would be much better spent by getting outdoors and scouting the woodlands you plan to hunt. With snow cover melted, wintering flocks are beginning to disperse. Once it begins, the spring shuffle becomes a day by day, ever-changing event. By the time the season’s opener finally arrives, turkeys can be a long long way from where you saw them last month.
In addition to helping keep tabs on current turkey whereabouts, scouting forays also offer an opportunity to explore new habitats or become reacquainted with old familiar haunts. Preseason scouting will also make you a better turkey hunter by providing unparalleled opportunities to stop, look, listen and learn as wild turkeys communicate and physically interact within a completely undisturbed natural setting. If you really want to know what turkey calling is supposed to sound like, nothing tops the direct instruction of a live hen. It’s an education that cannot be equaled.
Wary and unpredictable, the eastern wild turkey remains one of North America’s most elusive quarries. And although Iowa enjoys one of the nation’s highest turkey hunting success rates, only about one in five hunters will be successful in tagging a spring gobbler. Arming yourself with an increased knowledge of turkey behavior and turkey vocalizations can only serve to increase the probability for success. Quietly sitting in the preseason woodlands with a pair of binoculars now, can pay big dividends when you return to the spring timber with a valid turkey license and bow or shotgun in hand.