Kill a turkey on opening day by scouting right now

Andrea Atkinson of Team Low Country Wildlife understands the value of pre-season scouting.

Turkey call maker advises no calling before season starts

Turkey season is fast approaching for Carolina hunters. In fact, South Carolina held its Youth Weekend in Game Zones 3 & 4 this past weekend. The Palmetto State’s next Youth Weekend is March 28 – 29 in Game Zones 1 & 2. North Carolina’s Youth Season takes place April 4 – 10.

The rest of South Carolina hunters will get their shot on March 22 in Game Zones 3 & 4. That season runs through April 30. Game Zones 1 & 2 crank things up on April 1, with an ending date of May 10.

North Carolina’s statewide season runs April 11 through May 9.

So what can hunters do right now, just before turkey season starts to improve their chances of success?

John Tanner of John Tanner Calls makes turkey calls for a living. But his advice for scouting does not involve the use of any calls at all this time of year. He said right now, hunters should simply be observing what the turkeys are doing in their area.

“Right now, before the season starts, even up to the very day before the season starts, absolutely do not call to a turkey in any way. They are in a routine and you don’t want to disrupt them. The best thing to do right now is to find out where they are traveling each day,” said Tanner (843-558-5472).

And when you see a gobbler’s travel route, Tanner, of Hemingway, S.C., said to figure out where you need to be and what time you need to be there to intercept the bird.

Soft, limited calling is usually plenty for early season

“In the early days of the season, it’s going to be difficult to lure a gobbler away from his routine anyway. The birds are still in groups and he’s got hens traveling with him. So your best bet is to get set up on his travel route early enough that he’ll walk right in front of you during his natural routine,” he said.

Tanner advises hunters to scout during the part of day they are most likely to hunt. Knowing where a bird flies down and the direction it walks in the morning doesn’t always mean he’s going to walk back from the opposite direction in the afternoon.

A little bit of soft calling goes a long way in the early season, according to call maker John Tanner.

And once opening day arrives, Tanner said he’s not opposed to calling to a gobbler that strays off his normal path, or whose path is too far away from a good place to set up. But he said hunters should keep the calling soft. He also suggests calling just a few times in those first few days of the season.

“The first few days of the season is a good time to kill a turkey, but only if you’ve done your scouting. Know where a gobbler is roosting, which direction he walks in the morning, and where he returns to his roosting area from. Just find yourself a place to set up and be there when he walks by. That’s the best way to kill an early-season bird. But you’ve got to be out there before the season starts, observing while staying quiet and staying hidden,” he said.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1521 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina.

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