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Gearing Up For Turkey Hunting

Turkey hunters this year will notice the impact of 2007’s foul weather. Last year’s unseasonably warm March triggered many turkeys to begin nesting earlier than normal.

However, days of freezing weather that followed in early April meant the loss of many eggs laid early. While many turkey hens did nest a second time later that spring, the overall number of turkey poults that survived into the fall was lower than in years past, according to Steven Dobey, wild turkey biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

The same freeze also destroyed a large number of white oak blooms, especially in the western and central areas of the state. White acorns, a favorite food of turkeys, were in short supply last year.

Although Kentucky’s turkey population has stabilized to approximately 200,000 birds, hunters should expect to see fewer year-old turkeys this year. These jake turkeys are generally easier to hunt than older gobblers because they haven’t been educated about hunters yet. This means turkey hunting could be tougher this year.

That’s why it will pay to be prepared when you step into the turkey woods this year. Start with your shotgun. A special choke made especially for turkey hunting is a good investment, although a full choke will also work.

Next, pattern your shotgun by firing several rounds at a flat paper target. This will give you a better idea of how far your shotgun will shoot effectively. Try a couple different brands of shells—swap around with your hunting buddies if money is tight—until you find which works best in your gun. It does make a difference.

Although 12-gauge shotguns loaded with magnum 3-1/2-inch shells are all the rage for turkey hunting nowadays, you can still hunt effectively with your grandpa’s 12-gauge chambered for 2-3/4-inch shells, or a 20-gauge capable of firing a 3-inch shell. You’ll just have to call the birds in closer.

You must conceal yourself well to bring these wily birds closer. If you don’t have full camouflage—including gloves and a facemask—this is the year to get them.

The 2008 spring turkey season runs April 12–May 4, with a youth-only hunt April 5–6.
If you’ve prepared well, you just might find yourself face-to-face with a big old gobbler this year.



INSIDER’S TIP

You only have until the end of this month to apply for a Kentucky elk hunt. For your $10 application fee, you’ll be put into a drawing for one of 400 elk permits being issued this year. If you truly want to experience the hunt of a lifetime here in Kentucky, apply online at www.fw.ky.gov or wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

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