Best Days of the Strut: 7 Must-Hunt Dates for the 2023 Turkey Season
Check out this new article from Field & Stream!
“Top turkey hunting experts from all around the country pick the 7 dates when you need to be in the turkey woods. Get out the calendar
The calendar says that our spring turkey opener here in the Upper Midwest is a month away, but with two feet of snow on the ground, it seems as distant as other side of the moon. But that won’t keep me from daydreaming, and no matter what the weather, it’s time to start planning for the season—prepping gear, practicing my calling, and, most important, planning when to hunt. Assuming you’re doing the same, and to make the opener seem a little closer in my own head, I decided to get on the phone with some of the best turkey hunters I know to talk about the season ahead. And my main question to them was “If you had to pick a single day to chase a gobbler in your area, what would it be?”
Invariably there was a long pause, and I knew exactly why: Each of these guys are good enough tag a gobbler any time they head to the timber with a gun and calls. But asking them to pick a specific date is kind of a trick, as it takes the focus off the skill of the hunter and puts it on the bird in question. So I clarified: When are turkeys in your area are behaving in such a way that your odds success in a one-day hunt soar, or when hunting them is simply the most fun. Their answers, below, comprise F&S’s 2023 Best Days of the Strut—seven dates when, if the season is open in your area, you need to be in the turkey woods.
Best Day of the Strut No. 1: April 2
Although turkey expert Mark Drury of Drury Outdoors is from the Midwest, he’s been hunting Texas every spring for the last 30-plus years. “The season opens on April 1 in the area we hunt, and I always like to be there about that time,” he told F&S. “While breeding has definitely started, you don’t find as many henned-up toms as you will in another week or two. The key, in my opinion, is to focus on gobblers when they’re more vulnerable during that first week.”
Where they are vulnerable is important, too, Drury says, and in this case, it’s well off roost sites. While all turkeys are flock-oriented, he says Rios are particularly prone to that behavior. “It’s even exaggerated in Texas because of the lack of roosting trees,” he said. “Birds will pile into available trees, and a morning roost hunt can be chaotic and blow up in a hurry. We’ve found that targeting gobblers from mid-morning to early afternoon brings us the most success, particularly in this time frame. There’s another good window in the late afternoon and early evening, as birds start gradually heading back toward roosting areas. But that midday hunt is tough to beat during those first few days after the opener.””
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Photo Credit: Original Author