Tradition drives most hunting pursuits, but sometimes throwing tradition out the window could be the best plan for success. Spring turkey hunting falls into that category. Most hunts begin well before daylight by positioning yourself near a roost for fly-down success. Unfortunately, if a tom has a bevy of call-shy hens they may glide off in the opposite direction. A better plan may be to sleep in and attack a tom when he is most vulnerable. That time begins midmorning and extends well into the afternoon. Start a new tradition and sleep in for tom success.
Why does a later hunt make sense? First, it is a change from the typical pressure turkeys feel. It is common for many flocks to feel hunting pressure the second they land after a night of roosting. By adjusting your hunt to later hours in the morning, turkeys may feel more confident to come to your calls. A time change will ultimately cause you to change the venue where you call to a flock as they move about on their daily schedule. Turkeys accustomed to hearing calls near the roost and ignoring them could suddenly turn on to calls from along a timbered trail.
Second, turkey behavior is on your side for a late-morning start, especially as the season goes on. Early-season flocks may stay together throughout the day, but as breeding begins more and more hens will depart to deposit eggs in their nest. Later in the season they will take up full-time nesting duties. In either scenario, toms ultimately find themselves alone and looking for love by midday, if not earlier. Your calls could be the very impetus for a face-to-face meeting of the turkey kind.
To understand a turkey’s daily schedule, read on and plan to sleep in for bright-eyed success later.
Gobbling on the roost and upon land can be unremitting, but the hubbub can quickly fade as turkeys being their hourly rituals. Scouting also plays a role in a midmorning move and your focus should be on feeding areas with strut zones. Likely stops include meadows, grain fields and woodland openings for scratching double duty. These sites may vary day to day, so stay flexible and concentrate on patterns that may repeat several times a week. If your roost ambush fails or you cannot make it to the woods until after sunrise, make an effort to beat the flock to a likely strut zone.
Once there, you have options. You can wait, possibly in a pre-deployed blind, and hunt them in whitetail fashion. Or you can also grind on calls. Again, a well-positioned decoy can pique interest even from the boss hen. If you get the cold shoulder, increase the intensity with the addition of fighting purrs for a ruckus few testosterone-charged gobblers can ignore.
If you hunt in a half-day hunting state or follow a purist mentality toward turkeys, this is the end of the article. Goodbye. If you have options after lunch time, then you need to sneak towards midday loafing areas. Preseason scouting likely uncovered a few select, shady areas adjacent to field edges and feeding zones. Turkeys congregate here for midday heat escape. Turkeys also spend the midday hours dusting for parasite relief. If you find a location with this combination, mark a waypoint on your HuntStand hunting app.
Midday magic progressively gets better as the season advances due to the nesting habit of hens. From midmorning through the noon hours, a trickle of disappearing hens with nesting chores could suddenly leave a gobbler alone in the reality of isolation, as indicated earlier. Calling in this window of loneliness could be met with some of the most demanding gobblings of the day. A mobile strategy of moving between loafing areas and trolling with yelps trumps any lunchtime nap.
If you have never hunted the afternoon, buckle up for an experience that rivals sunrise gobbling. Keep in mind the midday rule. Any solo gobbler always has its ears fixated for the sound of a forlorn female. These bachelor gobblers often wander around quietly, but a well-timed call on your part could strike a chord and cancel any gobbler’s mute button for a high-volume response.
Begin an afternoon hunt near shady, loafing areas, but as the sun begins sliding westward, shift your search back toward field edges and feeding locales as birds try to fill up before a long night on the limb. Staging areas within a short walk of a roost are great locations to strike up a response.
Surprisingly, your calls could lure in lonely gobblers or hens beginning to regroup for evening fly up. If hens lead the charge, it is best to talk back in the same manner as the responding birds. Boss hens frequently demand a bad-tempered reply.
Two elements can make a huge difference in your turkey attack plans: decoys and turkey calls. For decoys, lightweight is best, particularly if you plan on cross-country hikes. Montana Decoy manufactures a selection of 3D and photo-realistic 2D models. Choose from flocks, pairs, hens, jakes, and fanning toms to complement your setup preferences.
The sounds of wild turkeys are easy to replicate with the help of Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls. Whether you are shopping for friction calls, locator calls or the best in diaphragm calls, Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls has a product to push the limits.
Finally, you will need a hunting vest to ensure you can carry your turkey gear and offer you the best in front-row seating. ALPS OutdoorZ has designed the NWTF Grand Slam Turkey Vest with a complement of pockets, a kickstand frame partnered with a padded seat, and shell loops for extra ammunition. Those are just a few of the features you will love in this vest combo.
Spring turkey hunting can be challenging enough without running yourself ragged with no sleep. If the early-morning hunts do not produce for you, sleep in and try a midmorning attack.
For more about Mark Kayser and ways to follow him on social media, visit www.markkayser.com.
TURKEY SCOUTING AND HUNTING GEAR LIST
Rocky Mountain Hunting Calls Turkey Calls – www.buglingbull.com
HuntStand Hunting App and Map Printing – www.huntstand.com
ALPS OutdoorZ NWTF Grand Slam Turkey Vest and Hunting Blinds – www.alpsbrands.com/alpsoutdoorz
Sig Sauer Electro-Optics BDX Selection of Rangefinders – www.sigsauer.com/electro-optics
Montana Decoy Co. Miss Purrfect XD Turkey Hen Decoy and More – www.montanadecoy.com
Cabela’s Turkey Hunting Headquarters – www.cabelas.com