Spring break up: what causes it and how to get ready for it

Written by Big Game Camera Man on Tuesday, April 9, 2013

There's no doubt that during the last fifteen or twenty years turkey hunting has grown in leaps and bounds in popularity. With the aim of keeping the flocks healthy over the long run, Fish and Wildlife officials set the start of the hunting season in each state for a time several weeks after the peak of the turkeys' breeding season.

All winter, turkeys have been flocked-up. The mature gobblers have had time to establish their pecking order and dominance. For the boys, breeding season is a short window of opportunity, usually concentrated in the first three weeks of April. By the time the hunt begins, at least 80 percent of the mature hens have been bred. In Spring, the hens determine all the turkeys' movements. Once bred, hens spread out from the flock,searching for nesting sites. The love-sick gobblers stick with the hens as they spread out. This dispersal is Spring break up-- everywhere, turkeys which were together all winter now scatter across every ridge and hilltop.

Here's a tip, based on my long experience at two sites—one in Bucks Co., PA and the other near Salem, NJ:

Both sites are approximately 15 acres, on private land where I have permission to hunt. Each has a single home with a private driveway where we hunters can park. Behind each home is a big hardwood ridge where gobblers customarily roost in Spring. The ridges have a deep layer of last year's dry, crackly leaves on the ground—walking on them sounds like walking on potato chips. Wary turkeys can hear you coming and they wise up fast; if they think they're being hunted, they'll clear out.

Before the start of the season, I prepare each of these sites by raking a long path from the parking area to the bottom of the ridge. I clear off dry leaves down to the forest floor, for a width of 3 feet or so. That way, my hunters (and I, with my camera gear), can slip in silently with our decoys. The preparation work has paid off at both locations. We've clobbered some real handsome toms there in recent seasons.

So, there you go turkey hunters, add this bit of planning to your arsenal of tricks.


Keep the tradition alive. Take a youngster hunting or fishing!

Remember, when turkey hunting, safety comes first.

About The Author

I’ve been in the business of filming hunts for 24 years now. I have hundreds of hours of...

Click here to read more about Big Game Camera Man

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