With the first day of spring just behind us, hunters everywhere are dusting off their boots and planning their next trip. Between the warmer temperatures and growing grass, everyone wants a reason to get outside and hunting is a great opportunity to get some fresh air and refine your skills. But spring can be a tricky time to hunt. Transitional seasons, unpredictable weather, and changes in animal behavior can throw even the most seasoned hunter off their game.
Before you step out, keep the following things in mind to make the most of your spring hunting trip.
Animals to Hunt
There are plenty of options to keep you entertained during the spring. Depending on your state’s regulations, squirrels, coyotes, bears, deer, turkeys, and geese are all up for grabs during this season. Each one will require a different strategy with more specific tactics, but overall you can expect similar general behavior.
- Plant-driven – As opposed to the fall months where small animals like squirrels are chasing down acorns, herbivore and omnivore animals will be seeking out budding plants like leaves, flowers, fungi, and berries, as these are a primary spring food source. If you find a large bushel of any of these plants, it’s probably a good place to start scouting.
- Stay low – Now that the ground has warmed up and plants are sprouting, animals are going to spend more of their time on the ground. While the fall and winter seasons usually drive animals up into trees, underground, or into large cavernous spaces, the spring season gets them directly out into the field. Keep your eyes out in these open spaces near areas of food sources.
- Timing – Getting out in the first three hours after dawn will ensure that you catch animals at their highest activity. It’s also worth noting that, if possible, you should try to start your trip post-snow melt. When the snow melts, you can still see animal tracks and beds from the winter, preserved from the snow and cold temperatures. Starting before new plants grow back gives you a major advantage for tracking your target.
With unpredictable weather patterns and temperatures, it can be tricky to dress properly for the spring season. To accommodate the ever-changing weather, stock up on lightweight, breathable clothing that will be comfortable in high temps, low temps, and everything in between. When looking at different materials, choose fabrics that are moisture wicking to prepare for rainy days that could otherwise leave you cold and wet for hours. It’s also important that the fabric is flexible to allow for easy and quiet approachability when stalking your target.
The material isn’t the only factor to consider though. Color is also something you’ll want to be particular about this season. Getting the right camouflage clothing is always important, but if you’re planning on turkey hunting this season, it should be a priority. Turkeys can see remarkably well and your success will depend heavily on concealment. You’ll want one set of camouflage clothing with predominantly grey and brown colors for the first part of spring and then another set with mostly green colors for the second part of spring once plants have started growing again.
Prepare for Rain
April showers might bring May flowers, but they can also bring your next trophy. It’s a common misconception that a rainy day will deter animals and lower your chances for success. Unless it’s storming to a dangerous degree, animals will be mostly unaffected and carry on with their normal day. If anything, a rainy day can work in your favor because animals are less skittish and tucked away when they have the concealment of rain noise and cloudy skies masking their movements. At the end of the day, the rain is going to deter other hunters, not other animals; you’re likely to have better luck than usual by braving some showers.
If you decide to venture out in inclement weather, it’s important that you’re decked out in quality rain gear. Wearing the proper waterproof jackets, boots, gloves, and pants will keep you comfortable throughout the day and focused on the task at hand. While it’s not necessary, bringing anything additional like a waterproof tent is useful. You’ll want to make sure you leave any electronic gadgets at home though. It’s not worth ruining your expensive equipment. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to see what you can catch without the help of your devices.
The last thing to consider when hunting out in the rain is tracking. The steady pour of water will make it difficult to track wounded prey, as blood will wash away pretty quickly. With that being said, avoid long-range shots and only take a shot when you’re confident. This isn’t the time to act on a half-sure opportunity.
Spring provides a great opportunity to get back out and hone your skills after a slow winter. With the right clothes, strategies, and preparation, you can make the most of this season. To equip yourself with all the proper gear, check out SWFA for the weapons, optics, and hunting apparel you need for success.