Turkey hunting can be very exciting and fruitful almost the whole year round, but there is something special about spring hunting. Why is turkey hunting more popular during the spring? There are many reasons why you want to prepare for turkey hunting during the spring season. Here is a brief overview of why spring is the best time of the year to plan your turkey hunting.
Spring – The Time of Wild Turkey Courtships
The primary reason why spring is prime season for turkey hunting is that this is the time of year when wild turkey courtship activities take place. During the majority of the winter season, most of the mature male turkeys, known as gobblers or toms, spend there time in a common flock. Flocks of gobblers begin to disperse as the cold recedes and the snow melts. During this period, the flocks of gobblers also begin to fight for dominance. It is during this period in which they begin to gobble and make displays in an effort to attract mature female turkeys, or hens. In general, a male turkey will try to mate with as many hens as possible. The juvenile male turkeys will also make an effort to mate with hens, but they may be much less successful. In general, juvenile male turkeys, known as jakes, will strut and gobble in an effort to attract hens. But they will not be as successful as older male turkeys, unless there happens to be a much lower ratio of toms to hens. Yearling hens will typically mate and nest during their first season. This is especially true of the Rio Grande subspecies. Many hens will mate with a gobbler more than once. However, all a hen’s eggs may become fertilized in just a single copulation. This may last through a re-nesting attempt. In general, a yearling hen can retain viable sperm for as long as 56 days after the initial breeding.
The Post-Mating Period
Most mating occurs in late February. It is during this time period in which most hens will begin work on their ground nests. They will soon begin to lay clutches of five to 15 eggs. Their success in nesting will vary from year to year. Current research has shown that nearly 50 percent of all nests are lost to certain conditions, including abandonment, predation and weather. From the nests that will successfully hatch, about half of these are lost to predation and weather. Current research also shows that hens tend to be prolific re-nesters, which means that they will often make several attempts at restructuring their nests if they happen to be destroyed for some reason.
More Spring Activity Makes for Optimal Hunting Conditions
After the initial nesting period, there is a 28-day incubation period. This is naturally followed by a second burst of gobbler activity. Toms will begin to strut, gobble and display in a strong effort to locate unmated hens, or hens who were not able to establish an initial nest. This period makes up the second major period of courtship activity during the spring season.
Taking Advantage of Spring Activity
Mid-spring represents the busy courtship season for mature male turkeys and mature hens. This also happens to be the best time of year for turkey hunting. This is because toms are actively looking for hens and will be quick to respond to the sounds of what they interpret as unmated hens. If you are able to master a proficient call yelp, you will find that spring turkey hunting can be very active and successful. Although successful turkey hunting can also be accomplished during summer and fall, spring is widely recognized as prime turkey hunting season.