As turkey season looms, take time to prepare

Two weekends ago, I had a defining moment in my hunting career. Bailee, who is 7 and my oldest daughter, killed her first turkey during Missouri’s youth season. I’ve been fortunate to take a number of trophy-size animals in my life, and I have experienced more incredible outdoor opportunities than I probably deserve, but nothing has ever meant as much to me as the smile on her face when she knelt beside her bird.

Preparing for youth season was almost as much fun. It reminded me of how excited I used to get as a child right before the first hunt of the year. I’d lay my stuff out on the bedroom floor and inspect it again and again before the big day. Nowadays, as one season melds into the next, every species has its special section of the barn and things stay pretty organized, for the most part.

Thinking on it now, though, I believe it may be a little dangerous to live such an organized sporting life. A little clutter scattered about allows us to sporadically flame the fires of passion that drive us from our beds hours before daylight on our only days off. So keep a few arrows on the workbench, a call or two in the truck console and some camouflage in the closet.

As Indiana’s spring turkey seasons approach, consider these few tasks as necessities of preparedness:

First off, shoot your shotgun. Yeah, I know you’re a good shot. And chances are if a turkey makes the mistake of coming to your call, you’re going to be a hero. So I won’t pontificate about the importance of practice. What I will say is this: Shooting is fun. Look at the arrival of spring turkey season as an excuse to go shooting. Take your wife or girlfriend, take the kids, whatever. Just get out, set up a target and shoot. The advantages are many.

Second, take your calls out of your turkey vest and mess with them. I’m not saying you can’t call. It’s like riding a bike, I know. But how much fun is it to throw a few yelps and clucks in a crowded place? Maybe send a few into the fella who just took your drive-thru order. Hey, turkey calling is fun. Don’t think of it as practice, even though it really is.

Third, touch up your decoys. Take them out of the mesh bag or box they’ve been living in for the last 11 months and set them up in the yard. Think of it as flying a flag. But really, set them up and walk away. Come back in an hour or so. Do they look real? If you were a turkey, would you be fooled? If not, think of what can you do to improve the set. Or is it time for a new decoy?

Fourth, if you’re a ground-blind hunter, like I am, then set up your blind. Preferably, set it up where you plan to hunt out of it. If you can’t do that, then at least set it up out in the yard to make sure it is still in working order, no mice have moved in and the spiders have a chance to leave.

Take some time to play with your toys. Remember, this hunting stuff is meant to be fun.

See you down the trail…

Brandon Butler is a Bloomington-based outdoors writer whose column is published each week in The Herald. Contact him at or head online to visit his blog at

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