#TbT: Predator Management Tips and Turkey Hunting
Last year the Little Gal (LG) and I gave you a report called The Little Gal Becomes a Trapper, in which, she decided to do some wildlife management via trapping. Years ago, there were larger flocks of turkeys in the area. Over time they had slowly disappeared. LG spoke with a biologist from the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and got some ideas for wildlife management. She realized the increasing numbers of predators in our area were eradicating the flocks of turkey.
LG wants to be a wildlife biologist herself, so she put plenty of thought into what she might do to help keep the balance of wildlife on the property. She decided the best thing to do was to take up trapping. She studied the hills, fields and brush to locate good positions for her live traps. In her 2012 trapping efforts, she finished the season with six fox and five raccoon. She was proud that she had captured so many turkey killers and even more pleased when she saw the flocks of wild turkey returning to the area.
When the next trapping season came around, LG decided to give trapping another try. She saved up some money, bought a few new traps and then scouted out additional locations. This winter she trapped two raccoon, a fox and FOURTEEN skunks! That’s a lot of turkey killers. Needless to say, throughout this past winter, we were happy as we witnessed even larger flocks of turkey in the area.
With trapping season closed, we are now preparing for the upcoming turkey hunting season. LG is proud that she has increased the number of birds on the property without wiping out the predators. She knows this because she is not only seeing predator tracks in the hills, but she spotted raccoon tracks coming from the goose box. There has been an egg thief! What an excellent lesson in conservation and balance of animals. It will be a continuous job, but LG is happy to learn, and also to help with wildlife management through trapping and hunting.
An abundance of Merriam’s turkeys has returned to the area, and are strutting their stuff. Photo courtesy of Mia Anstine
As we prepare for turkey season, we have a few tips and suggestions for hunting success which we thought we would share with you. Mind you, we are referring to Colorado hunting. Colorado does not allow hunting over bait or feeders, and only allows the harvest of one bearded turkey during the spring hunt. We are going to do our best to be prepared, so she has a fair chance for a successful hunt.
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Always be sure to make yourself familiar with local laws. Laws vary from state to state and may be changed from the past year. Review hunting regulations for the state you will be hunting before you head out to hunt.
It is very important to scout multiple areas prior to hunting season. We always look for more than one good location because, contrary to popular belief, those turkeys are pretty smart. You will see numerous birds all over a meadow a month before opening day, and at noon the day before season begins, they bail out of there. Scout and be sure to have a good “plan b” backup hunting location.
With hard work and preparation, we hope to be packing home a turkey this spring.
When it comes to turkey hunting, gear is very important. I am not only speaking of clothing, but also shotguns (or bows), blinds and calls.
- Shotgun – If you have been following Mia & the Little Gal, you know LG is taller than me. Even though she is taller, she is still small enough that a shorter stocked shotgun works best. She likes the 20ga Benelli, and is comfortable using it with the higher-powered turkey loads. Always make sure to sight in before you hunt. We are not allowed to use scopes in our state, so we have put a Hi-Viz sight and a turkey choke on the gun to help LG acquire her target and keep that turkey load in a tight pattern. We first head out to the shooting bench to test-fire, and then shoot off of shooting sticks and also from a kneeling position. This is most likely how LG will shoot while hunting. We also have her wear her hunting jacket while practicing so she knows what may bind or interfere with her shot.
- Clothing – It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect from Mother Nature during springtime in the Rockies, so layers are a must. LG and I bundle up for frosty mornings in base layers, sweaters and Prois’ Eliminator rain gear. We never know when an afternoon rain or hailstorm will sneak up on us as we are stalking long beards. The layers can be easily stowed in a backpack or turkey hunting vest as the day warms up.
- Turkey Hunting Vests – I recommend purchasing a vest that provides secure, yet silent access to calls. When shopping for a vest, look at how the pockets are covered. LG and I have seen vests that don’t close or cover well, thus allowing the calls to fall out. You don’t want that to happen while crawling through the brush! We have also seen ones that have noisy snaps or worse yet, Velcro! Keep an eye out for these things when you are shopping for a vest. At fourteen, LG is not old enough to hunt alone, so we carry her calls for her, which frees her up to pay attention to safely handing her gun. Another tip if you plan on hunting with a vest, is to practice shooting your gun with it on, to see what details in construction or storage may hinder a shot. This is especially important if you are archery hunting.
- Calls – Be sure to practice with your calls before you hunt. We use slates, box calls, mouth reeds and other standard type calls. Look for something you can use with ease. Put your calls in your vest and practice pulling them out. You do not want to be digging through your pockets trying to find a call or striker while a bird is coming in.
- Blinds – When you find a good general area for turkey hunting, seek out a location where you intend to set up. If you are hunting from a pop-up blind, look for a spot that has enough room for it and allow yourself time for set-up. LG and I generally use natural blinds for concealment including brush, logs and trees. This allows us to relocate if necessary. When spot and stalk hunting, I like to take along packable camo netting. Netting can quickly be draped over brush to conceal a young, fidgety hunter as well as quickly removed.
Portable camo netting is great for a quick and easy blind.
With all the hard work the Little Gal has put into predation management, and the tips above, we hope to be carrying home a turkey this spring. We wish you success in your hunt as well. Above all, be safe and have fun!
First published on april 4, 2014, this post by Mia Anstine still is relevant for turkey hunting in 2015.
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The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.
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