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Photo contributed by Larry Case / If you want to bag the king of the game birds this spring, it's wise to make the most of late winter by getting out your shotgun and checking its pattern at the target range before your state's turkey hunting season begins.

"March is a green and muddy month down below, some folks like it, farmers mostly." — "Bear Claw" Chris Lapp in the 1972 movie "Jeremiah Johnson."

So it seems that March is upon us. Now what are you going to do? I have always seen March as a time of transition for those of who are sportsmen and outdoorsmen. (Do I have to keep saying that includes the girls as well?) In most states, small game season ends the final day of February. If your state allows you to continue to hunt rabbits and squirrels into March, I am jealous and say go for it.

I think many sportsmen think of March as a time of doldrums and inactivity. As you may surmise, I disagree.

This is a time for most of us to be going from one thing to another. Small game and waterfowl hunting seasons are over (though some of you lucky dogs are in areas where you have the late "conservation" snow goose season), and some of you are probably thinking about those big birds that make all the noise this time of year.

Spring turkey season is right around the corner across the South. Georgia's statewide season starts March 20, Tennessee opens April 3 and the beginning of Alabama's season is staggered from late March to mid-April based on zones. (Be sure to check regulations for your area before hunting.)

As I always tell you this time of year, you have a whole lot of getting ready to do.

For once, this year get the ol' shotgun out and dust it off before the season, then go pattern it and burn some powder. Many times I have cautioned you about going forth to do battle with the king of game birds without knowing where your shot pattern is going. Take the time, go to the range and see where the shot is hitting the paper at 20 and 40 yards, and then you will know.

Next item on the agenda: If you really think your calling skills are lacking, now is the time to do something. Don't wait until the day before the season and find yourself looking for a turkey call at Walmart at midnight. Get those calls out and drive everyone crazy in your house by practicing talking to turkeys. Do the same at work and driving to and from. Your family and coworkers will probably threaten you with bodily harm, but your calling skills will benefit.

Before I give you a speech about your need to look over your camo clothing for turkey hunting, have you been out of the house much? With bad weather and coronavirus craziness, many of us have become a little thick around the middle. Yes, I know this goes for me, too, so let's get out there and break some brush and get those boots muddy. You can kill two birds with the same rock here by getting your exercise by scouting for turkeys. When turkey season gets here, you will thank yourself that you have been out and hiked up those hills and located some gobblers.

Now, and I think I have told you before about this, do not give in to the temptation of calling to any turkeys you hear while scouting! This has long been a hot topic for those who pursue the wild turkey, and I am on the side that says do not educate the same birds you are going to hunt by calling them up before the season. I know you want to, but don't do it.

Now see, I have gone all this way in this little sermon and not even touched on trout fishing. Spring is the traditional time for this endeavor, so March is when we usually really get going. Drag out the trout poles, the power bait and cheese eggs (OK, I know if you are a fly fisherman you do not want to hear that), and get after those rainbows.

How about a day prospecting for turkeys in the morning and trout fishing in the afternoon? There are worse ways to spend a day, pilgrim.

OK, the editors have been on me for going too long, but I think you get the idea. Beware the Ides of March, but go out there, get your boots wet and hear a turkey rattle.

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Contributed photo / Larry Case

"The Trail Less Traveled" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at larryocase3@gmail.com.

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