First, get the vest out and remove all the contents. I usually do this by just dumping everything on the floor and sorting through it. First, into the trash go the stale candy bar I forgot to take out at the end of last season. Once the trash is sorted out its time to get to the essentials. Let’s start with the calls.
If you use a slate call, rough it up a bit using the pad that comes with it. If you don’t have it a scouring pad will do. Give it a stroke or two with the striker to make sure it sounds like a seductive hen yelp. The little push button calls are also simple to use and require just a little chalk on the striker to get them ready. I love a box call because they require little maintenance. All you have to do is chalk up the edges to give it that raspy sound. Find the chalk for the box call if you can. This provides a handy excuse to go to the sporting goods store like you have for the past three years when you couldn’t find the chalk you bought before. Every year I put chalk in my vest for field use, never use it, but it is not there next year.
While at the store buy some new diaphragm calls because the latex from the old one is probably hard after sitting up a year. If you use one of the remote electronic decoys like the Mojo Shake-n-Jake you’d better get some new batteries while there. Then comes the part the spouse loves the most; it wouldn’t hurt to start practicing on them too. This is best done while the family is watching TV or while someone in the house is on the phone. This will promptly lead to screams of “go outside and make that noise” which leads to the next thing on our checklist.
It is never too early to start scouting for toms. Although they may not be gobbling yet (or they may be depending on weather), go back out and check the area where you saw those oak woods scratching during the hunting season last year. If you are fortunate enough to have private land access all the more better. With good timing of getting kicked out of the house, you might be able to roost some birds just as the sun goes down.
It is also a good time to go out and pattern that turkey shotgun again, especially if you are going to try out a new load like the new 3rd Degree from Federal. It is particularly important if you’ve got a scope on that gun. It doesn’t require a lot of jostling around for a scope to get off bore sight. Six weeks sounds like a lot of time until you get off work on April 8th and it dawns on you that the season opens the next day. There’s nothing else to do in March. Hunting seasons are closed as are Hatchery Supported Trout waters. It’s a great time to get the turkey gear out, relive the memories from last year and get ready.
The Wildlife Resources Commission met last week to go over the proposed regulation changes. I reviewed the agenda packet and it looks like all of the proposals received overwhelming support so I imagine they will be implemented. I was really surprised to see how much support the proposal to allow elk permit hunts got. I know several local groups aided by some local publications tried to generate opposition to it. Comments during the public hearings were nearly six to one in favor of the proposal. The Commission also reviewed a proposal to add about 150 acres of land in the Dix Creek area to Cold Mountain Game Lands. High elevation so it will be excellent grouse habitat. We’ll keep you posted.