Find what you need
Kansas turkey hunting in the spring is some of the nation’s best, with good bird populations, liberal seasons and limits and lots of public ground.
Here’s what you need to know -
Buying a permit – Residents and non-residents can buy turkey permits the day of the hunt, with the exception of in Unit 4 which has a winter drawing. Game tags can be purchased for a second bird in most areas. Unless exempt because of age or land ownership, turkey hunters also must have a regular hunting license. All can be gotten online at ksoutdoors.com, from any of more than 600 retail license vendors or by calling 800-918-2877.
Learning to call – Beginning hunters usually do best starting with a friction call, like a box or kettle call. YouTube is full of great instructional videos to teach the basic yelps, purrs and clucks.
Decoys – Fake hens are the most popular, but a decoy of a jake (yearling tom) has brought many jealous, older birds into range.
Guns and ammo – Most guns used for pheasant or waterfowl work fine. A tight pattern, full of pellets, is needed to shoot the birds in the head and neck. Full is the most common choke. Lead # 5, #6 or #7 ½ sizes are good, as are #3 or #4 in steel shot from a modified choke. Practice on purchased turkey targets to decide shot size, and effective distance.
Other gear – Head to toe camo that matches the surroundings helps foil a wild turkey’s fantastic vision. Gloves and head net are a must. Another option is a portable, pop-up camouflage blind. Most go up in a few minutes, are comfortable, hide movement and are great for taking children. Treating clothing with Permethrin repels ticks.
Where to hunt – Kansas public hunting opportunities include over 300,000 in the spring Walk-In Hunting Area program. Dozens of public areas are around reservoirs, state fishing lakes and some wetlands. Pre-season draws can get access to national wildlife refuges and military posts. The state’s fall hunting atlas includes spring WIHA tracts. More can be learned at ksoutdoors.com, including how to download hunting areas.
Pre-Hunt Scouting – Being in your area before daylight lets you listen to where the turkeys are roosting. Checking fields with binoculars or looking for tracks helps show daily patterns.
Safety – Hunting remains one of the safest outdoor pursuits in the nation. It pays to be safe. Like all hunters, turkey hunters need to be 100-percent sure of their target before firing. They should also never sneak in on turkey calls or move through the woods calling. Wearing a bright orange cap while moving through the woods can be wise.
The Hunt – If hunting near a roost, get in and set-up at least an hour before sunrise. If using a pop-up blind, back it into some brush to break the outline. If hunting without a blind sit with your back against a wide tree. Small garden clippers can help remove problematic branches or build a small blind. Place the decoy at around 15 to 20 yards. Call every few minutes. Remember, turkeys see movement extremely well. Make any movements slow. If they tom’s not moving, you shouldn’t be either. Remember to aim for the neck and squeeze the trigger. Oh, one last thing, - when a turkey comes in you may find yourself hyperventilating and your pulse firing like a jackhammer. It’s called turkey fever. There is not cure – thankfully.
If gobbles get your pulse racing – there’s no place like Kansas.