Local Column River Currents
Turkey Tactics for Late Season Gobblers
Turkeys have been hunted hard for going on a month in the 2012 spring turkey hunting season. Now, it’s not unusual to go into the woods before sunrise and not hear a turkey sound for an hour or two or not at all. By this time in the turkey season, it’s difficult to find a location where turkeys haven’t been seen and pressured by hunters. The net result of so many hunters hunting is that many of the tom turkeys are now call-shy and super cautious. Both hens and gobblers are less vocal and less excitable now that the mating season has reached its peak and is winding down. I’m not a run and gun hunter which is a tactic that some hunters employ this time of the season. I believe that taking a more patient approach works better during the later part of spring.
Another problem during the late season is that a few dominant toms have done most of the breeding and gobbling, while the turkeys that have lost territorial fights often remain quiet for fear of the boss or dominant tom. These subordinate toms will come to a call, but often they sneak in very quietly. Turkeys also react to “bossâ€ toms by totally avoiding them or by “skulking through the woods, hoping to find a hen without running into a rival. Turkeys have changed and adjusted their behavior this time of the year and hunters must do the same to have success. Try some of these tactics for late season turkeys.
· Keep your calling to a minimum and try to use calls (maybe a tube call) that you haven’t used much during the early part of the season. Using a call like this can help because the turkeys are less wary of sounds that they haven’t heard before. Turkeys aren’t doing much calling this time of the year, so you shouldn’t either. Try being silent for up to 30 minutes at a time and then repeating your calls.
· Professional turkey expert, Ray Eye, says that decoys are a must during the late season of hunting. When you’re sitting in the woods and not doing much calling, the decoys give turkeys something to zero in on, especially when you’re set-up in open terrain where the decoys can be seen from a distance.
· Be patient and try to employ some of the deer hunting tactics that you use when deer hunting in the fall.
· Try to make the turkeys hunt and look for you. If you’ve done your scouting, you should know where the birds are during the day and try to set up close to them while being extremely quiet. Make a few quiet calls and sit back against your tree (wider than your shoulders for safety) and relax. He (the tom) heard your calls before and he knows where you are. Be comfortable, patient, sit in one place, and wait for him to come to you. Try clucking and yelping softly while scratching some nearby leaves. Turkeys are very social and curious and if you don’t seem threatening, then they’ll come to you.
· Plan to sit for at least an hour and maybe two. Give the turkeys plenty of time before getting up. I know good turkey hunters that stay in the same place all morning or afternoon.
· Try hunting later in the day, after a majority of hunters have left the woods. Gobblers that have spent the beginning of the day with their hens are often alone by later in the day and out looking for company.
· Drive the countryside and using your optics, glass the field edges and openings for turkeys. If you see birds, make sure that you have permission to hunt the land. Then, slip into position to call. Then, sit and wait for the birds to come to you instead of charging into the woods while looking for the toms.
· Try to pattern your turkeys. Turkeys have routines that they follow daily. First, they’ll roost near or with their hens for the first few hours of the day. They’ll be hard to call now. But, after they part from the hens, they’ll visit their strut zones or other places where they may be seen, such as open fields and logging or farm roads. They’ll display silently, relying on their fans and drumming to attract hens. If you can beat the toms to these locations and hopefully you’ll have success!
Try to follow these tips, tactics, and techniques later in he turkey season and they should help you bag a turkey. You have to adjust your style and techniques to fit the season and what worked in the first few weeks usually won’t work later in the spring season. Make the appropriate changes in your hunting approach and you should be in tune with lonely gobblers.
Finally, this has been a “differentâ€ spring season to say the least. Warm temperatures early in the spring and during the beginning of the spring season had turkey’s weeks ahead of normal. The first two seasons had weather more like the last week of hunting season. There’s been more vegetation, foliage, bugs, and got hens bred and on the nest earlier than normal. I think that if you’re patient and stay in an area where you’ve scouted and seen turkeys before, you’ll find toms looking for hens to breed. Be safe and have a wonderful spring turkey hunting season.