Five Tips For Late Season Turkey Hunting
Early spring turkey hunting is like no other type of hunting. Comparable to perhaps the rut of deer hunting, turkeys can be very receptive to calling and decoys which makes them a blast to pursue. However, as the season progresses action tends to slow down and it can become more difficult to fill your tag. To help, here is a list of our top five tips for late season turkey hunting that just might give you that extra edge.
1 – Less Talking...More Listening
One of the biggest mistakes any turkey hunter can make during the later seasons is thinking that their tactics shouldn’t change from the first week or two of hunting. And yes, we are talking about calling. After the first few weeks of turkey hunting season, the excitement of mating slowly begins to decline as more hens are bred. This means that those early morning “excitement calls” do not have the same effect because turkeys are exposed to more hunting pressure. This usually results in birds being less responsive to louder and more frequent calls.
Not to say you shouldn’t call at all, it just means let out a few softer and less aggressive yelps or clucks to let that mature tom know you are there. Often times, if you play a little hard to get it just might make him mad enough to step in and investigate close enough to get a shot.
2- Mornings Don’t Always Mean Success
After the first few weeks of the season most birds have already gone through the peak of their breeding rituals. This means that hens will spend less time in the fields when they leave the roost to retreat during the day to a nesting area in the woods. Toms will often strut in the fields, but usually for not as long, as they are eager to find another mate as quickly as possible. This results in toms and jakes becoming more lonely and covering more ground through timber in search of a receptive hen.
Hunting in the late morning and early afternoons can be a deadly tactic as older toms become wise to early morning calling and heavy pressure from hunters during the early seasons. Sleep in one morning and slip into the woods about 50-100 yards off a field, you may just put yourself in the perfect situation.
3- Use the Buddy System
How often do we locate a mature tom that will never come closer than 75 yards? Any turkey hunter will tell you this is a very common scenario and can be one of the most frustrating situations you can face when chasing ol tommy three-toes. This is where knowing your equipment and hunting with a partner can be vital.
If you locate a mature tom, strategically place your hunting partner about 40 to 50 yards in front of a caller. The caller should send out a few yelps to let the tom know there are birds in the area. This is where sometimes a wise bird’s curiosity can get the best of him. Hopefully the bird will work his way just close enough into position to check things out and give the shooter in front of you an opportunity. If you have been trying to bag a bird with your bow and it gets down to the wire in the later season, it might just be time to swallow your pride and turn to the shotgun.
4 – Keep The Decoys Out
Don't give up on providing turkeys with some visual reference! We all know that a turkey’s eyes are perhaps their greatest sense and if you are being less vocal in the late season like, you should, one or two quality decoys will up your odds at getting a shot. Find some likely turkey spots and place your decoys so they can be seen from a distance and from a few different angles. One or two hens and a jake are usually your best bet, but if things get tough, sometimes a mature tom will do the trick as well.
5 – Be Patient, Pay Attention To The Fields
If you are new to the area you are turkey hunting, or maybe have not put as much scouting effort in as you had hoped, sticking to the fields may just be your best bet. Short green fields can be an ideal place to setup on and watch for late season toms in the early morning and late evenings. These fields provide easy surface areas for birds to strut. Turkeys also love fields because they can use their exceptional vision to see potential predators from great distances. A green field will also contrast a turkey's body color very well, so its easy to pick out birds from a far distance. If you are hunting the early mornings or late evening on a field, it may also give you the best idea where these birds roost so you can setup the next day in a better position if your first guess was not close enough.
6 - Don't Get Discouraged
So we have shared our five tips for late season turkey hunting, but we figured we would throw in a free piece of advice anyway. In the words of Marc Drewek " Hunting is not a spectator sport". Meaning if you are going to have success you need to put the time in and learn what works best for you and your situation. One of the best ways to learn how to become better at anything is to go out and try it for yourself. Getting discouraged and impatient can be a hunter's worst enemy! Good luck in the field and if you do get a chance to bag a nice bird, be sure to share you photos and story with us on Facebook!