Maryland Turkey Hunting Forecast for 2014

Maryland Turkey Hunting Forecast for 2014
Steve Alley shot this great 25 lb. gobbler this past turkey season.

Maryland sportsmen killed 3,344 birds during the 2013 spring season, as the combination of favorable weather and a good 2011 hatch resulted in a record kill.  However, for this season, Free State sportsmen face a classic good news/bad news scenario.

The good news is that the 2012 poult per hen ratio was a satisfactory 3.1, above the 10-year average of 2.8.  However, as was common throughout Maryland — and for that matter the entire Mid-Atlantic — during the late spring of 2013, too much rain fell and the temperature proved unseasonably cool many mornings.  Poult survival was poor in many areas, and the poult per hen ratio declined sharply to 2.3.  The bottom line is that a goodly number of 2-year-old toms will be present this spring but not many jakes.

PRIMOS' HOOK UP

primos.com
MSRP $42.95

Brilliant! Magnet Holds Paddle to Call

Here's one of those products that you see and go, 'œOh, yeah. Why didn't I think of that?' Primos' new Hook Up box call has a detachable lid. I am sure you've been running and gunning, and your box call is cuttin' and yelping all on its own in your vest? Well, now you can just pop the lid off and carry it in a separate pocket. An ultra-strong magnet also holds the paddle at the perfect angle for crisp cuts, smooth purrs and soft to loud yelps — when you want them.

WINCHESTER SX3 LONG BEARD

winchesterguns.com
MSRP [imo-slideshow gallery=184],269

Sweet Semi-auto Turkey Shotgun

Winchester's Super X3 semi-auto shotguns have been in the field long enough that they've proven themselves as quality guns. The company keeps expanding the line, and now they've produced a model specifically for Winchester Ammo's new turkey load, Long Beard XR. The new SX3 Long Beard is a 3-inch chambered 12-gauge that comes with Briley X-Full Long Beard Invector-Plus extended choke tubes optimized for Long Beard shells. You'll also notice the stock comes with three interchangeable recoil pads, three interchangeable comb pieces and a pistol grip.

Check out more of the hottest turkey shotguns for 2014.

MOJO'S SHAKE-N-JAKE

mojooutdoors.com
$149 at cabelas.com

Decoy Turns, Fans By Remote Control

How about a jake decoy that fans and moves at the touch a button from 150 feet away? Configured in the jake style, Mojo's Shake-N-Jake sits with its tail collapsed and down when in the off position. Use the remote control to turn it on and it raises its tail and fans it while simultaneously turning its body, just like real turkeys do. 4 AA batteries. Mounts on a 2-foot stake and comes with blaze orange carry bag with straps.

Check local hunting regs to confirm you can use an electronic motion decoy.

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

QUAKER BOY FULL TILT SLATE CALL

quakerboy.com
$25.99 at quakerboy.com.

Shallow Or Deep Section for Various Sounds

We all try to coax as much variation from our slate calls as we can. You might try to get the sound of a boss hen, a 2-year-old hen, jake and young-of-the-year bird from one call to tempt a tom into range. Good luck, until now. Quaker Boy made a call to help you get a wide variety of sounds from one call. The Mossy Oak Turkey Thugs Full Tilt Slate call is has a custom design pot that has a variable sound chamber: deep on one end and shallow on the other. You can get soft subtle calls on the shallow end and higher-volume, raspy sounds on the deep end.

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

RED ROCK OUTDOORS 5-PIECE GHILLIE SUIT

gandermountain.com
$69.99 at gander-mountain.com

Custom Setup That Covers Body, Gun

Getting into some ghillie suits feels more like pulling a garbage bag over your head than wearing something that is comfortable and effective. But Red Rock Outdoor doesn't take a one-size-fits all approach to ghillie suits. Their new 5 Piece Ghillie Suit jacket and pants have snap closures and elastic waist bands so you can layer clothing and choose your own fit. The pants also include snaps on the outer seams to cover boots easily. The hood is adjustable with a drawstring chinstrap. There's also a gun wrap that has elastic and a drawstring so your gun is an extension of your ghillie suit. Way stealth. Throw it all in the stuff sack. M/L and XL/XXL.

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

PRIMOS' GOBSTOPPER

primos.com
MSRP $59.99

Traditional Decoy at Low Price

If you're looking for a plastic turkey decoy that looks good to toms and doesn't break the bank, check out Primos' Gobstopper. It features the detail and paint-scheme quality you would expect from a higher-end decoy. The Gob-stopper is lighter than many premium decoys, and can be set up upright, contented or submissive.

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

FLEXTONE THUNDER YELPER

dickssportinggoods.com
$15.99 at dickssportinggoods.com.

Soft Yelps Easy with Flexible Call

Flextone founder and inventor Tom Wiley has come up with another variation of the flexible turkey mouth call for the 2014 season. The Thunder Yelper makes it easy to give soft yelps, which can be hard to produce with traditional diaphragm calls. It also gives you another tool among your calls to introduce variation so that you can give a gobbler a sound it might never have heard before.

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

WEAVER KASPA TURKEY SCOPE

weaver-mounts.com
$205.99 at midwayusa.com

Reticle Ranges, Centers Sweet Spot

Weaver's new turkey scope features a unique reticle designed to help hunters place precise shots on gobblers. The Kaspa 1-4x24mm Turkey Scope features the Vertical Zone Turkey Reticle. The VZT reticle's straight-sided, slot shape is designed to naturally aim the center crosshair to the middle of a turkey's kill zone. The two oval slots are designed to provide references for 20 and 40 yards. So you know how far away your bird is and you can place him right in the middle of your shot pattern.

A-WAY TURKEY SKINZ

awayhunting.com
MSRP $44.99

Turn Old Decoy Into a Hot Commodity

A-Way Outdoors has been working on this design for a while, and we think they got it just right. It's a clever idea to make your $50 turkey decoy look a lot like an $800 real-mount deke. Turkey Skinz are made from real turkey feathers that fit like a sheath over most hen, jake or non-full-strut tom decoys. The skins are durable as well, so you won't need to bust your hunt if it rains or if a tom spurs it.

Photo by Ron Sinfelt

NIKON ACULON LASER RANGE FINDER

nikon.com
MSRP $169.95 for dark green finish
$189.95 for Realtree Xtra Green

Small Package, Big Features

If you plan on doing any turkey hunting with a bow or crossbow, you'll want to have a laser rangefinder with you to make sure you know the distance to your bird. Heck, it's good to have one when gun hunting as well. Nikon is making it easy to pack a small LRF that will fit in the chest pocket of your vest. The Aculon is less than 4 inches by 3 inches and weighs less than 4 1/2 ounces. Yet, the LRF has big-time functions, like a Distant Target Priority Mode that displays the range of the farthest target among a group of targets measured. That's cool because there often grass or branches between you and the bird, since you are most likely on the ground, too. It has a Continuous Mode and 6- to 550-yard detection.

As has been true for many years, the western counties often offer the best Maryland turkey hunting.  Garrett and Alleghany counties, in particular, are outstanding destination as the former features the Savage River State Forest and the latter, the Green Ridge State Forest and Dans River WMA. Other public lands of note include the Sideling Hill WMA in Alleghany and Washington counties and the Pocomoke State Forest in Worchester County.

The average kill per square mile of habitat from 2011-13 shows the following domains topping 1.0: Washington (1.65), Talbot (1.60), Kent (1.47), Queen Ann's (1.43), and Dorchester (1.27).

The season will run from April 18 to May 23. Youth hunting will take place on April 12 in all counties and on April 13 in certain locations. The daily limit is one bearded turkey; the season limit is two bearded turkeys.  Sunday hunting does exist in many counties, but the rules are widely different.

Trip Planning Info:  Maryland DNR: www.dnr.md.us/wildlife, 410-221-8838. Visit Maryland: www.visitmaryland.org, 866-639-3526.

Share your best turkey photos with us on Camera Corner now for your chance to win free gear!

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