Turkey Hunting – Late Morning

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Turkeys might gobble like crazy on the roost. But for an hour or two after daybreak the woods may fall as quiet as a mausoleum. That’s because the hens and toms are courting and breeding. Toms strut and drum but gobble little if at all as they have their fun. The so-called “gobbling lull” is the toughest time of day to hunt.

But along about 9 o’clock some hens begin to leave some of the gobblers. Some girls simply lose interest in the boys, while others slip off to lay eggs. Lovesick toms are driven to be around hens all the time in the spring, so they immediately begin searching for more company. Some rowdy 2-year-old males may start gobbling hard in hopes of attracting new hens. Older longbeards strut and drum intensely, and they are stoked to shock gobble.

“Gobblers strut around all morning, and suddenly they look up and their hens are gone,” says my friend Harold Knight of Knight and Hale Game Calls. “They almost fly into a panic. If you slip around the woods and call, those lonesome turkeys will hear you and gobble. If they gobble a couple of times at your calls, they’re generally pretty easy to call in.”

There’s another big reason the midmorning hours are hot. You’ve got plenty of elbow room to do your thing. “Most hunters have gone home or to work,” notes Knight. “A lot of the gobblers that were called to and maybe spooked first thing in the morning have settled back down. The woods have calmed down and the turkeys are back on their normal routine. If you’ve got the day off, hang in there. You’ll have the woods to yourself as you call to those lonely gobblers.”

Beginning around 9:00 a.m. walk old logging roads, field edges, foot trails on ridges…you get the idea. Pause often and listen for gobbles. Try to strike toms with calls. ”

I like to blow a hawk or crow call,” says Knight. “Lonely turkeys have so much pent-up energy that they’ll often shock gobble at those sounds. The minute a turkey gobbles, I move in, set up in a good spot and switch over to soft hen calls.”

If locator calls fail to produce, turn to turkey calling. “My favorite calls are loud yelps and especially cutts,” says Knight. “If a gobbler’s hens have left and he’s strutting around by himself, he’ll nail a sharp cutt most of the time.”

Knight offers one exception to the rule of calling aggressively to strike toms. “When I hunt a public area late in the season, I figure most of the gobblers are call shy,” he says. “So I tone down my calling. I still cover lots of ground and call down into hollows and around fields, but I yelp and cutt softer and not as much.”


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