Start Planning for Spring
Winter is still looming, but many hunters are looking forward to the spring gobbler season, especially those hunters who plan on crossing borders in pursuit of a Grand Slam. Whether traveling this spring or staying closer to home, it's time to start preparing for those spring jaunts in the woods.
Pick your Destination
Whether traveling afar or staying close to home, find season dates and wildlife regulations on wildlife agency Web sites.
No matter what subspecies of turkey is needed to finish a Slam, there is a state where hunters can travel to hunt. Florida, Texas, Wyoming and Missouri are popular turkey hunting destinations, as are many other states with rich hunting traditions. Florida's spring season — the only place to take an Osceola- begins in March. While the deadline for limited draw areas has passed, there are still many public hunting areas open to visiting hunters, as well as private ranches and hunt companies that sell both unguided and guided hunts.
Other states also have limited draw hunts that can improve chances, but they must be applied for in advance. This requires planning because vacation, guide services and travel arrangements need to be made. However, there are many public hunting areas, especially out west, where hunting is open to everyone who purchases the proper licenses and permits.
Find customized topographical maps or aerial photos of your hunt area at MyTopo.com.
Scout Early and Easy
While it might not be the best time to be trekking through the woods searching for turkeys, keep your eyes open when you're driving around your favorite hunting spot. The winter flocks that you see will break apart in the spring, but it's a good way to learn what birds are in your area and give you a starting point for on-the-ground scouting in early spring.
Traveling for hunting can be expensive. Expedia.com has long been known for securing some of the best deals. Book your trip on Expedia.com through the NWTF Web site, and a portion will go back to conservation, hunting and the wild turkey.
Pick a Good One
Every state has hunting and fishing guides who cater to out-of-state hunters by providing lodging, guides, tags and important information about hunting regulations in that area. Unfortunately, not all guides are reputable and honest. Before booking with a guide, be sure to get references (at least five), and ask specific questions about any issues you believe could affect your trip such as lodging quality, experience of guides, emergency procedures and whether the guide guarantees a quality experience.
If you're still nervous about calling an unknown guide, book your dream hunt through the Outdoor Connection, whose agents have personally traveled to every destination to ensure an enjoyable hunting or fishing trip. The Outdoor Connection is also an NWTF partner, and contributes to the NWTF's conservation and hunting programs.
Get in Shape
Hunters spend months and sometimes years planning their dream trips, all the while never thinking about the physical excursions the hunt might require. Poor fitness and undiagnosed health problems can combine into a disaster. Be sure to visit your doctor to ensure you're healthy enough for the trip, and then start training. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, and is often required when pursuing wild turkeys. At the same time, improve your diet by eating more fruits and vegetables, and if your smoke — stop. Get in shape for the spring season, and help make it your best ever.