Spring wild turkey season calls hunters throughout state


April 04, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

This year's spring turkey hunt kicks off April 17 and continues through May 15 in Allegany, Calvert, Caroline, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Somerset, Queen Anne's, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester counties.

Ed Golden, who manages Maryland's wild turkey efforts, said, "We released turkeys in Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties last year, so now every county has an established turkey population. Unless something unforeseen happens, I expect us to have our first statewide spring turkey season in 1995."

Without a doubt, the re-establishment of wild turkeys throughout the nation is the crown jewel of modern wildlife management practices.

Back in 1920, turkeys were so scarce in Maryland that the season was closed and would remain closed for the next 29 years. In 1949, a limited season was open in Western Maryland. )) Last year, according to Golden, Maryland was home to about 12,000 wild turkey.

A wise person with aspirations of bagging a gobbler the first week or so of this April's hunt would be smart to spend some time scouting over the next week or two.

Get into your planned hunting area before dawn and listen for gobbles. Once you locate a good spot, go directly to the spot that you believe the gobbles originated from and pick out a place or two to set up a blind.

Try to find a place with a tree at your back and a clear field of view and fire to your front. Then familiarize yourself with its location so that you can get back to the same spot before dawn the day of the hunt.

Now is the time to knock the dust off of your favorite call.

The diaphragm call is a semicircular piece of leather with a small plastic diaphragm midway along the straight edge. You nest this call on the roof of your mouth and apply pressure with your tongue, creating an air lock. As you allow air to escape, the diaphragm vibrates, creating the yelp of a hen turkey.

Once mastered, I think the diaphragm is the best of all calls because it leaves your hands free.

The striker call is a little tricky to use, but very popular. Sound is produced by drawing a chalked or rosined block of wood across a thin cedar lip. To get the proper series of yelps, you strike the lip smoothly, increasing and decreasing pressure as you draw the block across. It's easy, though, to shriek or squeak like chalk across a blackboard and thus scatter everything within hearing.

The box call is a form of strike call, but here the striker is hinged to a box so there is less room for error. It also is one of the few calls capable of making a sound like a tom turkey gobble -- by shaking the caller.

Only shotguns may be used with complete confidence on these big birds, I think. I know lots of successful gobbler hunters who swear by a 3-inch, 20-gauge load of No. 6 shot, but give me the added confidence of a 3-inch, 12-gauge with an extra full choke throwing a heavy load of No. 5 buffered shot.

A turkey is a big bird with thick layers of feathers and heavy bones. Forget about body shots and birds that take to the air. The only shot you want to consider is the head/neck. You want the tightest 40-yard shot pattern you can coax from your shotgun. Experiment with different loads to find the right one, but chances are that load will feature buffered, platted lead shot.

Turkey federation event

The Central Maryland Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation's fund-raising banquet and auction is this Wednesday at Blob's Park, located at Route 175 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Jessup. Social hour begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the auction an hour later.

Tickets are $35 a person or $50 a couple. Call Pete Mortensen at (410) 442-2183 for more information.

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