The first week of turkey season offers hunters some unique opportunities, but according to one expert Lowcountry hunter, it depends a lot on what you do the week or two before the season.
Tom Siwarski, a Charleston-based inshore fishing guide, may actually be an even better turkey and duck hunter, and he knows that preseason scouting will put a hunter in position to take advantage of one of a gobbler’s weaknesses that will disappear when the season gets rolling: predictability.
“Generally, at the first of the season, gobblers are still ganged up, and you can really count on learning their patterns if you scout before the season,” said Siwarski, who runs Carolina Marine Aero Adventures. “They are easier to pattern than they will be in mid-April, when you can just bumble out there anywhere and stand to hear a bird, so it’s very important at the start of the season to have done your homework.”
Siwarski said spending the hours around dawn listening for gobblers bellowing out challenges from the roost and then riding and glassing areas to find what routes they take to food, water and roost, will put hunters as close to the driver’s seat as they can ever be when going up against a gobbler.
“They are as predictable as they’re going to be all season,” he said. “If I’ve done my homework, I will usually know when they’ll be in a certain area within an hour every day. They generally won’t be with hens, and they haven’t been hunted or messed with.”
Calling, Siwarski said, is generally not as aggressive as it can be later in the season when he’s got to compete with hens. But that can change, depend on the mood of the females.
“If I hear the hens doing a lot of yelping and cutting, I’ll lay it on ‘em, but I’d say my calling isn’t as aggressive as it will be later in the season,” he said.
Calling gobblers that are wandering around in little groups or pods presents a certain challenge, but also an unusual opportunity.
“You can call a gobbler away from a group, or you can call up the whole group,” he said. “I shoot more doubles the first week of the season than the whole rest of the year. They aren’t broken up yet like they will be later in the season.”