Imagine sitting in the woods on a spring morning with wildflowers in bloom, trees budding bright green and birds overhead migrating back to Minnesota. Then a turkey gobbles in the distance, responding to a turkey call.
“Spring turkey hunting is the best time I know to be in the woods. We witness an incredible transformation watching the woods wake up from winter,” said James Burnham, hunter and angler recruitment, retention and reactivation coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “For anyone who’s interested in learning to hunt turkeys, the winter months are a great time to prepare.”
Burnham shared his top three tips for anyone hoping to try turkey hunting in Minnesota when turkey hunting begins Wednesday, April 12: practice shooting, scout for turkeys and get gear ahead of time.
Burnham said by practicing at a shooting range with the gun and ammo you’ll be using, you can figure out how close the turkey needs to be before you shoot. The specific gun and ammo combination will dictate the distance at which enough shotgun pellets are clustered in the head and neck area of a turkey to effectively harvest the bird.
Winter is a great time to start scouting by taking a walk in the woods or a drive through the countryside to see where to hunt in the spring. Turkey tracks are easier to see in the snow.
“If you see turkeys in a field, you can use that as a starting place to locate public land or seek permission from landowners to hunt private land,” Burnham said.
Finally, winter is a good time to start gearing up for turkey hunting. High on Burnham’s list for equipment: a quality pair of cold-weather boots and something to sit on to stay warm and dry. Go for camouflage or Earth-toned clothing and avoid colors that turkeys and other hunters identify with turkeys, such as red, white and blue.
“Turkey hunting can be as gear-intensive as people choose to make it,” Burnham said. “You can spend a lot of money on top-of-the-line decoys and calls [but] I suggest focusing on the gear you need to hunt the way you want to hunt.”
More turkey hunting tips can be found on the DNR’s learn to hunt turkey page.