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Hunters will be going through their equipment, patterning their guns and securing vacation days to pursue the elusive Eastern wild turkey as Iowa’s premier spring hunting season is almost here.
Elusive maybe an understatement; of the estimated 50,000 turkey licenses that will be purchased, only about 20 percent of hunters will find success.
Spring turkey hunting begins with the youth only season April 8-16, followed by the first of four regular seasons on April 17.
“Turkey’s have home field advantage,” said Jim Coffey, forest wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “We are going to his turf and trying to get him to act in a way that goes against nature. It’s a challenge.”
In the timber, hens will answer the male turkey’s call when she is ready to breed. Turkey hunters will try to replicate hen calls to gain the attention of the Tom, and then frustrate him enough that he will come to the hunter.
The good news for hunters is there is always a new population of two year old gobblers to call each spring. Those two year old birds will likely be anxious to show off their moxie as they try to establish themselves as the dominant Tom for the flock.
“Those birds will be wide spread in groups of two to five and likely respond to calls well, competing to see which bird can get to the “hen” first, which is good news for hunters,” Coffey said.
The mild winter will likely mean an early spring green up that can change the timber quickly.
“Normally over the course of the four seasons, the timber will change from bare branches to full leaf out but this year, winter loosened her grip early and having an early leaf out can make the conditions change quickly, shrinking the distance that you can see in the timber,” Coffey said.
Hunters may purchase two spring turkey licenses, with at least one valid May 3-21 during the fourth season.