Missouri’s spring turkey season opened Monday, April 17, and runs through May 7. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to 1 p.m. Hunters must possess a spring turkey hunting permit. Each hunter may kill two bearded turkeys during the season, but only one turkey may be killed during the first week. If you don’t kill a bird during the first week, you may kill two during the second or third weeks. You just can’t kill them both on the same day.
Hunting wild turkeys is both challenging and rewarding. The opportunity to get out in the woods during spring and take in the wonders of nature as they begin to bud for a new year is a wonderful experience. The sound of a male turkey gobbling is in my opinion one of the beautiful vocalizations nature has to offer, and working these birds with calls is utterly intoxicating.
Turkey hunting is an extremely exciting and engaging hunting opportunity. The most popular method of hunting turkeys is to use calls to lure male turkeys into range for an ethical shot. There are various turkey calls on the market that produce imitation vocalizations of turkeys. Most calls imitate a female turkey, referred to as a hen, looking for a breeding partner. Other calls imitate male turkeys, referred to as gobblers or Toms, which will be considered competition by the dominant male in the area. Whichever turkey call you decided to use, the thrill of successfully communicating with a wild bird makes turkey hunting uniquely thrilling.
While the use of calls is the favored way of targeting turkeys, it is not the only way. Turkeys, like deer, can sometimes be patterned. If a hunter is knowledgeable about roosting and feeding areas of a specific turkey or flock of turkeys, the hunter may be able to set up on a travel route. This tactic has worked for me in the past. After watching a group of turkeys on numerous occasions during my many preseason scouting trips, I decided to set up on a particular field edge in hopes of catching a turkey on his way from his roost to the field he was feeding in. I used only a single hen decoy and called very little. The plan came together when the double-bearded gobbler ventured too close to my lone hen.
Finding a place to turkey hunt in Missouri isn’t difficult at all. Our state has a healthy turkey population from north to south. Conservation Areas are found across Missouri, and provide access to quality hunting grounds. The Mark Twain National Forest consists of roughly 1.5 million acres of public hunting ground across 29 Missouri counties and is home to a lot of turkey.
It is always important to keep in mind when turkey hunting, especially on public ground, that some of the turkey sounds you hear may actually be other hunters using calls to sound like a turkey. Always be 100 percent positive of your target before pulling the trigger. A dark-brown, fanned out gobbler and a camouflage clad hunter who’s sitting down look a lot more alike than you could ever imagine, especially in the heat of the moment.
For more Missouri turkey hunting information, visit the Department of Conservation website: www.huntfish.mdc.mo.gov.