It’s the fourth week of our spring turkey season and the hunt is getting harder and harder. But the turkeys are still out there and if hunters adapt to changes in their herding patterns, success is still possible. Hot gobbling is quickly becoming a thing of the past and the hens are sitting on their eggs. So how to adapt?
I find that most toms are always on the lookout for hens and will roam the edges of thickets in hopes of encountering a breeding hen. They gobble minimal, but rather wander almost without rhyme or reason. Any early morning success we’ve had over the past week has been finding travel routes along suspicious nesting areas and calling sparingly. The calls I use are more social in nature; Lots of purrs and clucks, sounding more like a lone hen feeding than a lone hen looking for love.
Evenings, however, always pay off. A few of my clients, and even myself, have scored beautiful toms in the evening catching the gobblers returning to their perches. I avoided hot talk and focused more on woodcraft to position myself and my clients.
An excellent tool for this has been satellite imagery. Once I know an area where a gobbler has descended from its perch, I expect it to return to that area. Now he won’t be in the same tree night after night, but he will be in the same area.
I will call Zoom.Earth on my iphone and survey the terrain. I look for choke points, paths between thick cover or swamp and settle there on what I think is an access route to its perch.
I took my personal gobbler this way. I had found this bird perched in a small pond of cypress trees and flying through a thick stand of live oak. I wasn’t getting any action from him on the morning hunts, but studying the satellite images I could spot a narrow expanse of open ground, not very large, on the far side of the cypress. It looked like a very good place for him to fly away.
That evening, I was set up against a pair of cabbage palms, waiting for him. I was giggling occasionally and scratching the leaves a bit to look like a hen feeding until I spotted this big rascal entering the little clearing. I quickly sent him an invitation to join me for supper, via my old Winchester, and he accepted; more or less. This gobbler never emitted a peep from the time he left the member that morning, until he died later that evening. Chasing those silent toms can be very frustrating, but if you stick with it, it can be worth it.
My tom sported an eleven inch beard, had an inch and a half set of spurs and weighed twenty pounds! Oh yeah, I was a smiling fool bringing that rascal back to the truck! Now I wish you all good luck getting out in the woods and if you have any questions or maybe a story to share please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected] God bless you and happy hunting!