To help increase your success, Mississippi Sportsman has put together this pocket guide of some steps to shooting a gobbler once the season begins.
Here's your sign
Scouting is an important tool for patterning the behavior of wild birds on the land you intend to hunt. It's best, however, to use your eyes, ears and legs to locate turkey sign - feeding areas, grooming areas, strut zones and roosting sites. Listen for turkeys to gobble early in the morning.
Resist the urge to call. Blind calling only frustrates birds that may respond, and it actually lessens your chances of locating a willing gobbler once the season opens.
Pattern your gun
The variables of different chokes, different guns and different shells means not all guns shoot the same. Take your shotgun to the range and look at how it patterns on paper with the same loads you intend to shoot at real birds. Know how your gun patterns at 10 yard increments out to 50 yards.
Try different loads to see which ones work better for your gun or if your current load will still get the job done.
Have a game plan
Don't just wander through the woods calling every five minutes. Patterning how turkeys use a particular piece of ground takes time, maybe even years.
But you can get a leg up if you're new to an area or just starting out in the sport by recognizing that turkeys, just like deer, have different travel routes and frequent different areas for a reason.
Use this pattern as a guideline and then adapt it to your hunting grounds.
Here are some tips to help put together a pattern:
• Listen for roosting turkeys near low-lying areas, especially near water, just before daylight.
• Check for birds to be in or around food plots or open fields by mid-morning.
• Watch for birds crossing fields, firebreaks or logging roads during the middle of the day.
• Check ridge tops and saddles early in the afternoon, and then look for birds around edges of pine thickets, briar patches or cane breaks until late afternoon.
• Oak bottoms that stay cool in late afternoons, especially as the weather heats up later in the season, will attract a number of birds.
• The last hour of daylight should be spent back in the low-lying areas locating birds going to roost or roosting sites.
• If you find a bird already on the roost, wait until dark to make sure he's tucked in for the night, and then ease out quietly and start making up that excuse for calling in sick tomorrow.