Hunters are preparing to pursue the elusive Eastern wild turkey as Iowa’s premier spring hunting season is almost here. Spring turkey hunting begins with the youth only season April 8-16, followed by the first of four regular seasons on April 17.
Elusive maybe an understatement; of the estimated 50,000 turkey licenses that will be purchased, only about 20 percent of hunters will find success.
“Turkeys have home field advantage,” said Jim Coffey, forest wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “We are going to his turf and trying to get him to act in a way that goes against nature. It’s a challenge.”
In the timber, a hen will answer a male turkey’s call when she is ready to breed. Turkey hunters try to replicate hen calls to gain the attention of the Tom, and then frustrate him enough that he will come to the hunter.
The good news for hunters is there is always a new population of two year old gobblers to call each spring. Those two year old birds will likely be anxious to show off their moxie as they try to establish themselves as the dominant Tom for the flock.
“Those birds will be widespread in groups of two to five and likely respond to calls well, competing to see which bird can get to the hen first, which is good news for hunters,” Coffey said.
The mild winter will likely mean an early spring green up that can change the timber quickly.
“Normally over the course of the four seasons, the timber will change from bare branches to full leaf out but this year, winter loosened her grip early and having an early leaf out can make the conditions change quickly, shrinking the distance that you can see in the timber,” Coffey said.
Hunters may purchase two spring turkey licenses, with at least one valid May 3-21 during the fourth season.