According to retired SCDNR enforcement officer Mike Gault, an avid turkey hunter from Union County, lingering winter weather was just what the doctor ordered to cool off the area's wild turkey populations in his area.
"I was a bit concerned when I started seeing gobblers start strutting in late January," said Gault. "I base the advancement of turkey season on the sprouting of the foliage. The gobblers up here seem to gobble better as the leaves come on and the weather warms up."
Gault reported that his preseason scouting just before the youth hunt indicated that gobblers were definitely traveling in the company of multiple hens. That did not prevent his group from getting two opportunities on mature gobblers.
"We took some kids, a couple of my buddies and their grandsons, and two of the kids got shots at birds," said Gault. "My brother-in-law's grandson, Ty Williamson, killed a nice bird, probably 20 pounds."
Gault indicated the trick when gobblers are henned up is to call softly to the hens and try to get them to pull the gobblers within gun range. This is also a time when time spent scouting will pay off. Gault has identified travel zones on all of the properties he hunts and prefers to start the day located in the vicinity of roosting sites and travel routes come first light.
"If you don't hear a bird gobble at first light and you're in a likely travel area, sit tight, don't call too much," said Gault. "Aggressive calling to hens will run them off. All you really need is to call softly, figure out where they're moving and try to get in front of them."Gault's future predictions are for gobblers to do more of just that as the season progresses and hens commit to nests to rear their young. The cold weather front across the Upstate late last week should help. In fact, Gault said that he and his son Adam both took mature toms mid-week with an increase in gobbling activity.