Indiana’s Youth Turkey Season is April 22 and 23. During this special season, youths 17 years old or younger accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years old can harvest one bearded or male turkey. This bird counts as the only turkey the youth is allowed to harvest during the spring season. The adult hunting with the youth must posses a turkey hunting license and game bird stamp.
Hunting wild turkeys is both challenging and rewarding. The opportunity to get out in the woods during spring and take in the wonders of nature as they begin to bud for a new year is a wonderful experience. The sound of a male turkey gobbling is in my opinion one of the beautiful vocalizations nature has to offer, and working these birds with calls is utterly intoxicating.
Turkey hunting is an extremely exciting and engaging hunting opportunity. The most popular method of hunting turkeys is to use calls to lure male turkeys into range for an ethical shot. There are various “turkey calls” which produce imitation vocalizations of turkeys. Most calls imitate a female turkey, referred to as a hen, looking for a breeding partner. Other calls imitate male turkeys, referred to as gobblers or Toms, which will be considered competition by the dominant male in the area. Whichever turkey call you decided to use, the thrill of successfully communicating with a wild bird makes turkey hunting uniquely thrilling.
While the use of calls is the favored way of targeting turkeys, it is not the only way. Turkeys, like deer, can sometimes be patterned. If a hunter is knowledgeable about roosting and feeding areas of a specific turkey or flock of turkeys, the hunter may be able to set up on a travel route. This tactic worked for me last year. After watching a group of turkeys on numerous occasions during my many preseason scouting trips, I decided to set up on a particular field edge in hopes of catching a turkey on his way from his roost to the field he was feeding in. I used only a single hen decoy and called very little. The plan came together when the double-bearded gobbler ventured too close to my lone hen.
Finding a place to turkey hunt in southern Indiana isn’t difficult at all. Most public land in this half of the state has a healthy population of birds. The Hoosier National Forest consists of roughly 200,000 acres of public hunting ground and has a ton of turkey. The numerous state forests dotting the southern half of our state are also prime turkey hunting destinations. Yellowwood State Forest, Morgan/Monroe State Forest, and the Jackson/Washington State Forest are three examples of public forests that produce many turkeys every year.
It is always important to keep in mind when turkey hunting, especially on public ground, that some of the turkey sounds you hear may actually be other hunters using calls to sound like a turkey. Always be 100 percent positive of your target before pulling the trigger. A dark-brown, fanned out gobbler and a camouflage clad hunter who’s sitting down look a lot more alike than you could ever imagine, especially in the heat of the moment.
Turkey hunting hours are 1⁄2 hour before sunrise to sunset. The youth hunter may use any legal shotgun, bow and arrow, or crossbow. The youth’s adult partner must not possess a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow while in the field, except for a handgun carried lawfully.
Youth turkey season has become one of my favorite weekends of the year. Watching kids develop a love for turkey hunting builds my confidence in knowing future generations will continue to fight for conservation and natural resources. Youth season weekend is a special time to share time outdoors.