Hunting turkeys in May
Best in: Ontario
I was never able to grasp the hold that turkeys have on many hunters until I went on my first gobbler hunt. After two days of searching and calling, I finally found a roost that held four big toms and several jakes and hens. I put them safely to bed, grabbed a few winks myself and was in position well before legal light, hidden where they’d never discover me. The toms began to gobble in the still morning woods, and shortly after daylight they parachuted out of the trees, landing no more than 150 yards from my position. I started to call and the whole flock began to slowly peck and scratch toward me. At a distance of no more than 60 yards, they abruptly stopped and began to wander back the way they’d come. My hunt was all but over, but from that moment on I was hooked—I finally understood what all the fuss was about. If you’re a turkey hunter in Canada, there’s absolutely no better place to be than in southern Ontario on a crisp, early May morning. But be warned: these birds are nobody’s fools, especially if they’ve been hunted before.
The most widely adopted early-season method is to first locate toms through their gobbling, then sneak into their backyard in the early morning with the intent of calling them to within range. At the height of the breeding season, the males aggressively pursue hens, so a decoy can help bring them in for a shot. Since their eyesight is nothing short of amazing, you must wear full camo and remain absolutely still.
I prefer a 12-gauge shotgun choked modified, with #5 or #6 copper-plated loads. Aim for the head and neck region when shooting, as the big birds can absorb considerable punishment and disappear in the blink of an eye if they’re not anchored with the first shot. Also note that in Ontario, you must first take a one-day course before obtaining your turkey licence.