Tim Herald – USA Guest Author
Many turkey hunters feel like they have to be in the field the first few days of season to be successful, but that just isn’t the case. Kansas spring gobbler season opens in mid-April and runs through the month of May, and many “in the know” realize that the last half of season often is much more exciting and productive than the first week. With a bag limit of two birds and a season that stretches about seven weeks, Kansas offers some of the best and most lengthy turkey hunting in the country. There are Eastern turkeys in the east, Rio Grande birds in the west, and hybrids in the zone where they meet. Licenses are over the counter, so there are no hassles for anyone who wants to hunt the Sunflower State.
A couple of springs ago, I hunted Eastern birds in the northeastern part of the state with turkey calling legend Chris Parrish and Kansas turkey guru Rob Petit. I took two nice eastern gobblers, and though I hate to admit it, I missed two more on just a three-day hunt. The toms were vocal, they came to the call, and we were hunting the second half of the season.
“Sure the opener can be good, and the 2-year-old birds are often easy pickings, but after that, things can get tough early. In May, many of the hens have gone to nest, the older class gobblers are out roaming, and they respond more readily to the call,” Petit said. The seasoned guide also advised, “when you see some nesting behavior, the toms go back to proven areas where they were successful in finding and breeding hens earlier, and they become somewhat more predictable.”
This fact was proven on my first Kansas gobbler. Petit had seen a certain gobbler in a field with only a single treeline down the middle for a possible roost. He had observed the bird on various occasions strutting in the mornings and late afternoons early in the season, but he always had a harem of hens. We found him alone the first afternoon of my hunt, but things just didn’t work out as we arrived a bit late.
The second afternoon we timed things just right and were able to set up just before the tom showed up. He strutted all over the field as he made his way to my Hazel Creek stuffer decoy, and I was able to give him a nasty dose of Nitro hevi-shot that ended the hunt in a hurry. The key to the successful hunt was the fact that Rob waited to hunt the bird later in the season when his hens were nesting and he was much more susceptible to call and decoy. Many times it is much better to hunt smarter rather than harder.
In south-central Kansas, Bosco Gregory runs TB Outfitters. They generally run 100% success on their turkey hunts, and when I asked Gregory his favorite time to hunt, he confirmed Petit’s views. “It seems like the hunting just gets better as the season progresses. Kansas has a lot of hens that can make early hunting tough at times. When they begin to sit, the gobblers get lonely, and they are a lot easier to kill. Hunting in our part of the state is good right through the end of season.”
I have also found that because of the lack of hens, you can call a bit more aggressive to the gobblers, and they respond readily. I like loud calls to cut through the Kansas wind like Primos AlumnaSlate and Battleship box call, and during this time of season, it seems you can’t call too much or too loud. The gobblers respond readily and often work themselves into a gobbling frenzy.
The birds will respond any time of day, I assume from being lonely, and nothing is more fun that being able to run and gun, call all you want, and get on gobbling turkey from flydown to fly up.
Take the advice of these two seasoned Kansas guides, and consider hunting their spring gobblers in May. Opening day habits are hard to break, but hunting with your head will lead you to the more productive second half of the season in Kansas.
To book a quality hunt with these outfitters, go to www.grandslamhunts.com