In more than five decades walking on this beautiful earth, I have learned many things, but one that is the most important is the following: We were given two ears and one mouth and we should use them accordingly.
Now, some could take that statement and use it in many different situations. It could mean one thing to one father and something totally different to another. In a work environment, some could say that one should listen more than he or she talks. As a husband, well?
I hope you all know where I am going with this.
For sportsmen, especially spring turkey hunters, it really means just one thing: Spend at least twice as much time listening to the birds than talking to them.
Knowing what the birds are doing in your hunting area is the most important piece of the turkey-hunting puzzle. Without birds, all the calling, set-ups and fancy equipment is all for naught if there aren't any turkeys in your area.
Earlier this week while doing some preseason scouting and fine tuning Youth Weekend set-ups, I again made another entry in my spring turkey hunting gamebook.
One of the first mornings out I was able to listen to birds talking on the roost. Having only one hen stroll by me, I couldn't figure out where all the birds disappeared to. Not wanting to burn the new area by walking around, I worked my way out. After some road work I soon discovered where a few of the birds had gone.
So on day two, I decided to set up and watch a different section of the property. As the sun broke over the horizon, I heard only a couple of birds from the treetops.
It wasn't long before Plan B began to take shape.
Without going into a bunch of details, I had a front-row seat on spring turkeys doing what spring turkeys do best; from longbeards fighting to a propagation. Needless to say, it was really cool. I never touched a call. I just sat back and watched birds in their natural, undisturbed daily routine.
I have never been one to creep so close to birds in the dark that they fly right down in your lap. While this is a great way to scout and, at times, very productive, it does have downfalls.
History has shown me that attempting to get too close to birds in the dark is not a high-percentage way of killing spring gobblers.
While I feel that I can creep along the woods quietly, doing it in the dark isn't worth the risk. It seems that no matter how early I get in the woods or how cautious I try to be, more times than not I bump birds off the roost. Once that is done, generally that roosting area will not be used. Hence, all your scouting has been ruined by one hunt.
For me its not worth the risk.
This is just one reason I preach scouting all the time and year-round.
Often times it's best to just sit back and study the game we pursue. The older I get the more I enjoy studying game. With that knowledge one can put together a game plan for future hunts. That is why when I do these scouting trips I don't even carry a call.
Over the years I discovered that most turkey hunters can run a call, but the drawback hunters make is using the same cadence. It's been long taught that spring turkey hunters need to change up their style of calling.
As hunters head out this weekend for the youth season, remember that the important part of taking a child hunting or fishing is to have a good time and not necessarily to fill a tag.