One Reason to Go Spring Turkey Hunting

Spring turkey hunting season can be fast and furious! The proper use of turkey decoy can take drastically increase success. I’ve used the standard hen, hen/jake and strutting tom decoys in the past, but the new MOJO Scoot-n-Shoot decoy looks like it could amp up my turkey hunting experience!

We’ve all been there. We set up our decoys and start yelping, only to have a big thunder chicken respond with a mighty gobble. Exciting! But after an hour of talking back and forth the reality is that the distance between you and the boss gobbler has not closed. He’s hung up or standing put. You have to go to him. Time to scoot over his way in position for a shot.

MOJO Outdoors just announced that their decoys made for the scoot-n-shoot style of turkey hunting are now available for purchase. I’ve seen this technique used before, but after watching the MOJO promo video I can’t help but go out and find one of these setups right now.

Video: Close-Range Turkey Hunting Action!

Scoot-N-Shoot Turkey Decoy

MOJO has absolutely REVOLUTIONIZED how we turkey hunt with the Scoot-N-Shoot style of hunting using the Scoot-N-Shoot and Tail Chaser Series of Decoys. Certainly the most exciting and arguably the most successful method of hunting long beard gobblers. They will come to run you off to protect their hens and their territory. It is their nature.

The new Scoot-N-Shoot is lighter and more compact for better mobility while you scoot in order to shoot. The new Tail Chaser is styled the Tail Chaser Max and has a bigger fan with realistic gobbler head on it, and a new mounting system to provide more site picture and to allow for optical sights. Also, comes with hub to accommodate a real fan.

MOJO has long been recognized as the company that revolutionized waterfowl, turkey, predator, and dove hunting with their constant innovation and from that has continued to lead the way bringing new and exciting products to the market place that change how we hunt. MOJO’s goal is to truly raise the bar, and their shop does some great work.

Turkey Hunting Decoy Tips

Spring Season

I love heading into the field in spring time. New-growth green makes trees, shrubs and grass vibrant again after a period of  winter grays and browns. The spring season for turkeys also gives me yet another reason to get outside.

There is nothing more fun than getting a big gobbler within bow or shotgun range, whether it be bringing him in to you, or you going to get him. Spring turkey hunting season in just around the corner in Texas and I plan to give scoot-n-shoot a try this year. Can’t wait to get out there and make it happen!

If you love Texas, you will LOVE this video!

Texas Spring Turkey Season, Rio Population Look Great

With Texas’ spring season just around the corner, there is good news for turkey hunters: With a good crop of birds last year combined with a healthy stock of mature gobblers, the spring turkey season holds plenty of opportunity for hunters willing to put in the time afield, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

“I am looking forward to a great turkey season,” said Jason Hardin, TPWD Upland Game Bird Program specialist. “This past spring and summer, Texas experienced one of our best nesting seasons in years thanks to good habitat. Hunters can expect to see quite a few mature toms and a ton of jakes. These jakes will be great for introducing new hunters to turkey hunting and set the stage for the next two years of spring hunting.”

The spring season for Rio Grande turkey in the South Zone of Texas runs March 19-May 1 and culminates with a youth-only weekend May 7-8. In the North Zone, the youth-only weekend seasons are March 26-27 and May 21-22. The North Zone general season opens April 2 and runs through May 15. A special one-gobbler limit season runs April 1-30 in Bastrop, Caldwell, Colorado, Fayette, Jackson, Lavaca, Lee, Matagorda, Milam, and Wharton counties.

Hardin notes that the mild winter and early spring should lead to some early breeding behavior. The large number of juvenile hens on the landscape could lead to quite a few mature gobblers being “henned-up” early in the season.

“However, by mid-season most of the hens should be bred and incubating eggs leaving a large number of mature gobblers looking for love,” he noted. This would be a great time to be out hunting a gobbler in search of a hen. “Also, if conditions remain mild and if we get a few more timely rain events, Texas can expect another good year of nesting and populations growth.

Turkey Management 101: Providing Habitat

Turkey Habitat Management for East Texas Landowners

Want a crash course in turkey management 101? You are in luck! The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will conduct a multi-county Land Stewardship Practices for Wild Turkey Field Day at the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area. The field day will be for landowners interested in managing their properties for wildlife, particularly wild turkey. AgriLife Extension staff will discuss the importance of private land stewardship for wildlife as well as the basic biology and management of eastern wild turkey.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department experts will discuss wild turkey re-stocking and restoration efforts, native grass restoration and the wildlife property tax valuation process. The field day will include an afternoon tour of the management area where proper land stewardship and wildlife management techniques for many wildlife species, including the eastern wild turkey are implemented. Field demonstrations will include GPS/GIS technology for wildlife management, and timber thinning and prescribed fire to maintain grasslands and improve turkey habitat.

Turkey Management for Improved Habitat

There will be no cost to attend the wild turkey management field day but attendees must pre-register by April 28th to provide a head count for the meal. One TDA CEU will be offered in the integrated pest management category. Speakers will include professionals from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and the National Wild Turkey Federation. Special thanks goes to the Gus Engeling WMA for hosting the event and to Heritage Land Bank for sponsoring the meal. The agenda is as follows:

Turkey Management 101 Workshop

Turkey Management Workshop Details

When: May 1 (8:00 am – 4:00 pm)
Where: Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area, 16149 North US HWY 287, Tennessee Colony, Texas
Pre-registration: Call the Anderson County Extension Office at (903)-723-3735

Turkey Season Now Closed in 11 Texas Counties

Spring turkey season is closed in 11 East Texas counties for 2016. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its Thursday public hearing approved closing spring eastern turkey hunting in 11 East Texas counties effective next year, while restructuring the season in two other counties. Looks like hunters will have more time to hunt feral hogs, fish for white bass.

Hunting season for eastern turkey will be closed in 2016 in Angelina, Brazoria, Camp, Fort Bend, Franklin, Harrison, Hopkins, Morris, Titus, Trinity, and Wood counties and on National Forest lands in Jasper County. While closed, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologists will evaluate the prospects for future eastern turkey restoration compatibility and restocking efforts. The department’s goal is to reopen hunting should the eastern turkey populations in the affected counties become capable of sustaining harvest.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is also restructuring the existing spring turkey hunting season in Wharton and Matagorda counties. The new regulations, which take effect for the 2016 season, will continue to allow for a 30-day spring only, one gobbler season and eliminate mandatory harvest reporting.

In an effort to expand hunting opportunity for youth and reduce regulatory complexity, the Commission also adopted a 14-day extension of the late youth-only season in counties having an open Rio Grande fall turkey season, to run concurrent with the late youth-only season for white-tailed deer.

Turkey Stocking in Texas: Habitat Management Before Hunting

Wild turkeys are found in robust numbers in many areas of Texas, but there are locations where turkey stocking is warranted. This is especially true in the eastern half of the state, where eastern turkey once roamed. Some of the turkey populations originally found there never bounced back after they were initially wiped out by unregulated hunting and changes in habitat. Now, those same areas are prime candidates for turkey stocking if property owners are willing and can work together.

For stocking stockings to work, however, it is going to require more large landowners to become involved. Land use practices of the past on commercial land, private tracts and even national forests have created challenges that are not favorable for turkey, but the turkey habitat found in some parts of the eastern half of Texas have improved dramatically. This mean stocking and, eventually, more turkey hunting in east Texas. But let’s not put the cart before the horse.

Turkey Stocking in Texas

Source: “It was a cold, grey morning. Hardly the chamber of commerce type weather to welcome newcomers to the state. But there they were, 24 eastern wild turkeys from Tennessee and Missouri being liberated from the boxes that had been their homes for about 48 hours.

Once free, the 22 hens and two jakes flew off in all directions into the pinelands of Trinity County. Their new home is the White Rock Creek drainage situated between the Trinity River to the west and the Neches to east.

The release was the first round of this year of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s efforts to re-establish eastern wild turkeys in the state. The department released 248 on three sites in 2014. They will eventually release 80 on the White Rock Creek site, the only one approved for stocking this year.

To qualify for turkey release, a site must be at least 10,000 contiguous acres and meet stringent habitat requirements. It is a guideline that has proven harder to meet than expected when the department began its super stocking approach to wild turkey restoration.

The program is a true cooperative between TPWD and the states that provide the birds, the National Wild Turkey Federation that underwrites transportation costs and hunters whose upland game bird stamp supplies GPS tracking devices and pays for other portions of the project.

The often unmentioned key is landowners who not only allow the department to release turkeys on their properties, but also invest in the habitat management work necessary for the birds to thrive. Last year that included both a private and corporate landowner, along with a state wildlife management area.

Turkey Hunting Could Change in East Texas

It looks like the spring hunting season for eastern turkeys is a changing. Well, not so much changing as in going away, at least in some cases. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is considering closing spring eastern turkey hunting in 11 East Texas counties, restructure the season in two other counties and extend the youth-only fall turkey season. The recommendations are among a brief slate of proposed turkey hunting regulation changes for 2015.

If adopted, hunting season for eastern turkey would be closed in 11 counties (Angelina, Brazoria, Camp, Fort Bend, Franklin, Harrison, Hopkins, Morris, Titus, Trinity, and Wood) and on National Forest lands in Jasper County. While closed, TPWD wildlife biologists will evaluate the prospects for future eastern turkey restoration compatibility and restocking efforts. The agency’s goal is to reopen hunting should the eastern turkey populations in the affected counties become capable of sustaining harvest.

TPWD is also proposing to restructure the existing spring turkey hunting season in Wharton and Matagorda counties. The proposal would continue to allow for a 30-day spring only, one gobbler season and eliminate mandatory harvest reporting. In an effort to expand hunting opportunity for youth and reduce regulatory complexity, the department is proposing to expand by 14 days the late youth-only season in counties having an open Rio Grande fall turkey season, to run concurrent with the late youth-only season for white-tailed deer.

Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted by phone or e-mail to Robert Macdonald (512) 389-4775; e-mail:, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744. Comments may also be submitted through the department’s web site and at the following public meetings. Comments may also be submitted through the department’s Internet web site in February once the proposals have been published in the Texas Register and at the following public meetings.

Public hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, March 3 at 7 p.m. in Zapata at the Zapata County Technical and Advance Education Center, Room 128, 605 N. US Hwy 83, and in Lufkin at the Angelina County Courthouse, 159th District Courtroom, 215 E. Lufkin Avenue. A live online public hearing via webinar will also be held at noon on Friday, March 6. Details and instructions for participation in the online public hearing webinar will be made available on the TPWD website.

TPWD Check Station App for Turkey Hunting & More

It’s always a good idea to read over the deer and turkey hunting regulations each year. Things don’t always change from year to year, but it’s the year that you forget that something happens. For the better part of 20 years Eastern Turkey Hunters have reported their harvest to mandatory check stations scattered across east Texas. Unlike most Texas game animals, each Eastern Wild Turkey harvested in Texas must be reported within 24 hours of harvest.

In the recent past, that meant a drive to the local turkey check station. That check station may be located right down the road or across the county, which is not all that convenient. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is looking to change that. Beginning this coming spring turkey hunting season (2015), Eastern turkey hunters< can report their harvest on their Apple or Android smart phone or tablet by downloading TPWD’s Wildlife Harvest Survey.

Turkey Hunting in East Texas

The new app is available on both iTunes and Google Play. The app will have links to game wardens, wildlife biologists, wildlife management areas and more. Use the app to report your harvest or for all the other functionality it offers. Another option for reporting your harvest during the 2015 spring Eastern turkey season is through the TPWD website. You can also find the turkey check station locations for the physical check stations at the appropriate TPWD web page.

TPWD plans to continue to run the physical check stations during the 2015 spring season. However, in the coming years the digital checking systems will become the standard for all successful turkey hunters to follow. This system will also be available for hunters to voluntarily report any resident game animal harvested in Texas, which will help them with estimating total harvest for a variety of wildlife.

TPWD is always trying to increase the amount of good data on how game animals are doing across the state. This is how many of wildlife decisions are made. It’s been suggested in several instances that more data can be used to justify more liberal bag limits for specific game animals. Best of luck during the spring turkey hunting season!

Turkey Hunting in Texas Takes Planning, Management

There are good numbers of wild turkey found throughout Texas, but the best tip I can offer for better turkey hunting is to develop better habitat on the property that you hunt. Proper land use and habitat management is critical to keeping birds on your property if they are in the area. With the large amount of Texas that is kept in pasture or improved pasture, it would appear that we have all the permanent openings that we would ever need for wild turkeys. In some cases this is true, but often pastures and fields offer little for turkeys.

Openings are needed to provide important summer range for young turkeys and can provide an excellent source of food for the flock year-around. Before discussing food plots one thing should be made clear, we are talking about openings that are already established. Do not clear trees to create openings. It is a lot harder to grow a mast producing oak or dogwood than grass. Use the openings that already exist and manage those areas for turkey, whether it be through planting spring food plots for turkey or the planting of native forbs and grasses.

Turkey Hunting in Texas Takes Habitat

A 10 to 20-foot wide strip of high weeds should be left along the edge of mowed fields, fence rows, and pastures for nesting and escape cover. Property owners can also increase spring and summer production of annual weeds and grasses next to these unmowed strips by shallow disking an adjacent 15 foot strip after the first winter freeze. This will make obtaining food easier for hens that nest in the weeds during the spring and will provide a ready supply of insects for the young when they hatch.

Plants found in fields and openings should be reduced by late winter with mowing, disking, close grazing, or burning to discourage hens from nesting where mowing may later destroy turkey nests. Therefore, do not mow, disc, or burn the high weeds purposely left along fence rows and woodland borders to encourage nesting.

Pastureland can provide much of the open habitat needed for turkeys if the adjacent woodlands contain a variety of mast producing hardwoods and fruit producing shrubs. When pastureland is used for both wild turkey habitat and hay production, care must be taken during cutting and bailing operations. Nesting hens may be killed or their nests destroyed if fields are mowed during the nesting season.

In addition, even mowing around a nest site will usually be of little benefit since this just tends to pinpoint the nest for predators. Leaving a small, unmowed area in an otherwise mowed field appears to act as a red light alerting predators to an area needing investigation. Most turkey nesting is completed by the end of May, waiting to mow until early June will give your turkeys a chance for eggs to hatch and poults to go mobile.

Better turkey hunting can be achieved in the parts of Texas where birds are found by managing both the habitat and the turkey population found on a property. The easiest way to have more turkeys is to provide the habitat they need and then let them produce those birds on an annual basis. Weather is also a factor, but it always comes down to whether hens can find a suitable place to nest. A lack of habitat means little to no successful nests and that equates to no new birds and reduced hunting in the future.

Hunting Turkey in Texas: Banded Birds Reveal Habitat Use, Nest Success

The spring turkey hunting season in Central Texas should be decent despite the current, dry conditions. That’s because the the bulk of the birds making up this year’s harvest were hatched two or more years ago. Biologists with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) know quite a bit about Rio Grande turkeys, but they do hope to find out more about this wide-ranging birds over the next few years.

Earlier this year, a total of 50 Rio Grande turkeys were banded in Llano and Mason counties. All of these birds were fixed with an aluminum band on one leg and a colored (also aluminum) leg band on the other. Some of this Hill Country turkeys are even sporting designer backpacks and state-of-the-art electronics. They are not trying to be fashion statements, but rather these birds are forced participants in a high-tech information exchange.

Texas Turkey Hunting

Earlier this year, TPWD biologists working closely with local landowners trapped, tagged and outfitted these birds with GPS tracking devices for Rio Grande wild turkey fieldwork to identify specific habitat characteristics of nesting, brood-rearing, loafing, and roosting sites. “We will also look at dispersal rates and distance traveled between winter and summer ranges,” said Kory Perlichek, TPWD’s district biologist in Mason.

The project began by hunting for a place to catch some turkeys. TPWD settled on 3 turkey trapping sites on private land in eastern Mason and western Llano Counties. Trapping began in February using funnel traps and drop nets. Among the 50 turkeys captured, which included hens, gobblers, jakes, and bearded hens, a dozen of the hens were fitted with GPS-VHF backpack-style radio transmitters. Local landowners and biologists alike are interested in how this high-tech information can improve land management decisions.

Basic biological data was collected on all birds and leg bands were placed on each prior to release where they were trapped. Silver bands were placed on the right leg and a colored band on the left leg of each bird. TPWD phone numbers are on each leg band and radio transmitter. If anyone recovers a wild turkey with a leg band or radio transmitter, either during the hunting season or otherwise, please contact the phone number listed on the item or contact Kory Perlichek at 325-347-5691.

All turkeys with radio transmitters will be monitored once a week prior to nesting and more frequently during nesting season. Nesting season for the Edwards Plateau is typically from April to July each year depending on habitat conditions and the timing of spring green-up.

Previous work in the Edwards Plateau, where Rio Grande wild turkey populations have locally fluctuated, has not focused on populations in the Llano Uplift region. While these wild turkey populations appear stable, changes in land use practices in this area and the effect on habitat use and productivity are unknown.

Turkey Hunting in East Texas

The Eastern spring turkey hunting season in East Texas includes 28 counties that have an open season. The hunting season runs April 15 through May 14 this year. According to Jason Hardin, Turkey Program coordinator for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the Eastern turkey population remains stable, but is not expanding to the degree that biologists have hoped.

“Easterns across most of Texas have not shown much growth outside of a few areas stocked in 2007-2008,” he said. “Those stocked sites were part of a research project examining a new stocking strategy known as super stocking.”

Turkey Hunting in East Texas

This turkey stocking method calls for flooding the best available East Texas habitat with at least 80 turkeys (60 females and 20 males). The old stocking method only placed 15-20 birds per site, which were more susceptible to other issues because of low initial numbers. Following the positive results of this “super stocking” research, TPWD is now looking for large, high quality sites to be evaluated as potential future releases sites. These sites can be single ownership or a cooperative on private or public lands.

East Texas hunters are reminded that all Eastern turkeys must be taken to a check station within 24 hours after harvest. To find the turkey check station nearest you, contact a TPWD field office or call (800) 792-1112 for more information. The turkey hunting in Texas can be good, but East Texas is a little more difficult. With warmer than normal temperatures, the turkey hunting should be as good as it can get early in the season.