Tip 1: It’s not too late to get a spring turkey license.
If you are a last minute planner or you did not draw a turkey license during the limited draw, you still have an option to hunt. Spring OTC licenses are unlimited in number so anyone with a hunter education card can purchase a license to hunt turkeys this spring. 2018 OTC licenses are valid from April 14 through May 27 and provide access to some of the best turkey hunting in the state. While preplanning and a little scouting always produce the best hunts, a little virtual scouting and a long spring season can also be a recipe for success. Use the 2018 Spring Turkey OTC maps and the Colorado Hunting Atlas to zero in on a great hunting location.
The Colorado Hunting Atlas combines species-specific range information, including turkeys, with public access information. The atlas provides the ability to toggle between a variety of basemaps that will allow you to zoom in and examine detailed satellite views. Before you get your boots on the ground, you’ll have a sense of the terrain and you can formulate a plan for how you would like to hunt.
Tip 2: It’s never too late to learn.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s turkey school online offers a number of great articles for novice to advanced turkey hunters. Turkey school lessons are targeted at the novice hunter, but offer information that will help anyone headed to the field in pursuit of a spring gobbler.
The following articles are a great starting point for novice hunters.
Tip 3: Safety is always your first priority!
Following these 10 tips will help keep you and others safe in the field:
- Avoid wearing clothing that has the same colors as a turkey. Carefully check your clothing to make sure it does not contain red, white and blue as they are the colors found in wild birds.
- Protect your back. Find a tree or rock outcropping to back up against and protect your backside. This may protect you from the pellets fired by another hunter, as well as provide cover for the area you cannot easily see if another hunter is approaching your location.
- Identify yourself to approaching hunters. During spring turkey season, most hunters are camouflaged from head to toe. Camouflage helps hunters remain unseen by an approaching gobbler, but it will also keep you hidden from hunters who may move into your area. If another hunter approaches your position, remain still and call to the hunter in a clear voice. Do not whistle or use a call. Announce your presence without movement.
- Use smart decoy placement. Place decoys in a location so that you can see the gobbler approaching to your “gun side” and prevent having to move to make a shot. This placement also prevents you from being in a direct line with the decoy if an unseen hunter attempts to shoot your decoy.
- Bring your hunter orange or pink. When traveling to a hunting location or transporting decoys or a harvested bird, wear hunter orange or pink (a vest or hat). Place the harvested bird in a game bag or wrap the bird in an orange vest. DO NOT sling a harvested bird over your shoulder and walk out of your hunting area.
- Plan for a safe shot. Always look beyond your target to ensure the area is safe. Do not shoot sky-lined birds, not even with a shotgun.
- Clearly identify your target as a legal bird. In the spring turkey season, a bird must have a visible beard. Do not shoot at movement in the brush, even if you hear a gobble.
- Do not carry a loaded firearm in your vehicle. Completely unload the firearm before traveling.
- Inspect your ammunition before your hunt. Ensure you are carrying the correct gauge of ammunition for the shotgun you are carrying. Remember, you will typically be loading your firearm in the dark.
- Never stalk a spring turkey. The enjoyment of the spring season is calling the bird to you. With the number of realistic decoys in the field today, what you are stalking may just be another hunter.
Tip 4: There’s plenty of hunting after the opening weekend.
If you’re just starting to plan for a spring hunt, you may benefit from spending your first weekend at the range. Time spent at the range patterning your turkey gun will translate into increased confidence in the field. And for anyone fortunate enough to be able to hunt on a weekday or a weekend later in the season, you are likely to see far fewer hunters in the field.
The growing popularity of turkey hunting has resulted in many ranges offering turkey sight-in specials.
Cory Kraft of Colorado Clays in Brighton said their shooting range now offers a special opportunity for hunters to pattern their turkey gun. For $10, an accompanying Range Safety Officer will assist you in patterning your turkey gun out to 40 yards. Each shooter is allowed to test up to 3 choke/shot combinations. You can bring your own targets or purchase targets at the range. Interested hunters can call 303-659-7117 to schedule your range time.
To find an option near you, please use the map below.
As always, good luck on your spring hunt and please share any helpful hints in the comments below.
Written by Doug Skinner. Skinner is an editor for Colorado Outdoors Online and is a media specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.