As I've mentioned, I have over three decades of turkey hunting and guiding and I have learned a lot of lessons during those years. Unfortunately, I have also found myself unprepared on a few opening days of turkey season. Here is what you can do to try to save the day.
Hopefully you have a go-to spot for killing birds where you know exactly where and how to set up for early morning success. If you have a few options but are not sure which one to try, always go for the property that involves the least amount of walk-in access. Preventing as much intrusion into a hunting locale if you are unsure of the game plan is just common sense. Even better, if you have a property that you can slip into and on an east side border, you can have a short path of escape and you can place the sun in your favor.
One thing to remember if you have no idea where the birds are on any given property is to try not to run and gun which will spook birds unnecessarily. Running and gunning consists of hurrying around to different spots hoping to get an excited gobbler to open up so you can target him. Forget that nonsense on opening day because for starters, early season birds don’t like all that commotion and they will eventually come to a call if you hang in there for a decent amount of time. Also, spooking turkeys could ruin your entire season and they might even relocate to a neighboring tract of land.
If you are not geared up for opening day, take one call with you. I always prefer a slate call as it is versatile and small. Slate calls can produce most any sound a hen turkey will ever make and it can fit in your pocket.
If you must make a long trek through huntable country, then do yourself a favor and never give up on a location until you have sat there for at least an hour. Like I mentioned, opening day might not get you tons of gobblers, but there is always a curious bird that will meander your way if you keep subtly calling. They can’t help themselves.
Finally, don’t settle on killing a jake if you did not plan to kill one. Nothing is more disappointing than settling on a smaller, less desirable animal just because you fear failure. Make a standard and stick to it. You will never regret it.