Spring Turkey in Western MarylandPosted on: April 24, 2018 By: FHMD
Though I’ve been hunting all of my adult life, I consider myself far from an expert, by any means, when it comes to turkey hunting. One is always learning– whether you mean to or not. Seldom do I return from a hunt without adding to my repertoire, to be drawn upon on a future hunt.
I reside in the mountains of Western Maryland, specifically Garrett County. The terrain is diverse with rolling mountains, streams, farm land and an abundance of hardwoods. What I’ve found most relevant to locating and hunting turkeys is to find travel corridors from their preferred roosting areas to the open farm fields, logging roads and open meadows where, along the way, they scratch the earth in search of grubs, seeds and early spring insects. Once you locate a preferred destination, you can think about where to set up for your hunt. One of the best ways to increase your success is to try and locate turkeys on the roost the evening before your hunt. There are several ways to accomplish this. In the spring, get your binoculars and glass the treetops, as turkeys are often silhouetted against the dusk sky. Using a crow or owl call can be quite effective. Gobblers will often unveil their location when they hear the call – BINGO! Then head out early the next morning, get situated before first light, wait and listen when they fly off the roost.
Spring gobbler season came in a few days ago here on the mountain top and the weather was downright cold, snowy, windy and certainly not spring-like, but I went out in spite of the hand dealt by Mother Nature. I heard a few gobblers off in the distance early on, but struck out that morning. I had to get to work, so I reluctantly headed back a few hours earlier than I would have liked.
Day two – again the weather more like winter than spring (23 degrees), but wait– no snow or wind! I hiked across the open field, my steps crunching the frozen grass blades. The stars were brilliant, the air crisp and not a sound to be heard…I was excited!
I set my lonely hen decoy approximately 35 yards out from me, on a knoll which allowed views from various surrounding locations. At 5:45 a.m. the gobbling started; not one, but at least three vocal variations. I responded promptly with a gentle “good morning purr” followed by a contented cluck thrown in for good measure. At first light, I had three deer come in and surround my decoy, quite comical until they finally winded me and promptly saluted their white flags and left me back to entertaining the turkeys.
It was just after 7 a.m. when I had two hens come in from my left, but then retreat back into the woods. A few moments later, to my right, eight jakes swiftly moved in on the decoy. I waited, looking for the gobbler who was occupying all my time and patience, but he never presented himself. As I watched the jakes toy with my hen, I noticed movement to my right– another gobbler bigger than the others. He moved in to see what the commotion was all about which allowed me a nice shot. This was an exciting and fast-paced morning and I was fortunate enough to fill one of my tags. This is a great start to the season with several more weeks to hunt. I’ll be sharing my passion of turkey hunting with two gals on their very first turkey hunt in the next few weeks. I’m honored and delighted to have such opportunities to instill the importance of hunting, conservation and passing on this wonderful tradition.
My shotgun of choice is the 12-gauge Beretta 400Xplor; my shell of choice – Federal 3rd Degree. I’ve tried many different loads and, without a doubt, this shell, in my opinion, is one of the best. Wheather your turkey is 10 yards or 50 yard away, this shell gets the job done.
Click here for information on Maryland’s turkey, here for more information on Garrett County, and here for more information on the Spring Turkey Season across Maryland. Be sure to review the Turkey hunting rules and regulations before heading out.
This post was written by Ann Marie Foster, Owner of Calibered Events, LLC
Images courtesy of the author