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How to Hunt Turkeys in the Afternoon

How to Turkey Hunt- A quick guide on how to hunt turkeys

How to Turkey Hunt- A quick guide on how to hunt turkeys

The most common way of locating birds in the morning is the owl hoot.  Sometimes as the season goes on birds will slow on the owl hoot gobbler because so many people use it.   A hot bird will gobble on the roost without a locator call most of the time allowing you to get into position.  Any decent owl call, crow call, or locator call will work, even using your mouth.  Listen more than you call is usually my rule. When a bird gobbles on the roost the first step is to figure out where he is at and how to get within call range without him seeing or hearing you.  If there is no option to get closer I will wait till he is down and moving in a direction for making my play.

You want to get close but not too close. Make sure he does not see you or hear you moving through the woods. Stay out of sight of the bird and set up silent.    Just before fly down time I like to let out one soft tree yelp if we are under 150 yards or so.  No other calling is needed until he flies down. If he gobbles at the tree yelp I shut up.  A tree yelp is a very soft 5-7 note yelp where he can barely hear you.  

How to Turkey Hunt- A quick guide on how to hunt turkeys
I do not make another sound until I know the bird is on the ground.  If I get too aggressive in the morning, the gobbler would stay in the tree and expect the hen to walk to him, however if he still thinks the hen is in the tree he may just come to you and you'll have a textbook hunt.  

After he hits the ground I call again.  This time, a louder yelp (kee-kee) in early season or even a yelp/cut at a hot bird if he is gobbling hard.  If the gobbler responds again I will be silent for a while.  From here on out it's all about keeping him on line.  He will only gobble if you entice him or if he is unsure of where you are.  Simple clucks, purrs, or whines will seal the deal 99% of the time. Remember not to get too aggressive with the turkey and loud right off the bat. 


How to get a gobbler with Hens

Henned up birds have always been an issue for hunters.  Why would a male turkey walk away from his females for a hen calling in the bushes?  He probably wont unless he breeds them all first.  Being patient is crucial in this turkey hunting situation.  Calling too much and the hens will walk the other way with the gobbler.  Calling to little and they wont know you exist. You have a few options nonetheless. You can try to pick a fight with the hen.  Usually this works better when you have more than one hen.  Cut aggressively and use fighting purrs to call in the dominant hen and her boyfriend might just follow.  Or you could figure out which direction they are moving and try to get in front.  Soft clucks and purrs are recommended after you get in line to get the bird into range.  The last tactic is to keep my distance, and let them know that im over there(usually one good yelp) and wait.  The hens will eventually leave and he will get lonely mid day.  Turkeys have a great memory and will remember where that call came from earlier and go investigate.


How to Hunt Turkeys in the Afternoon

 If i am unsuccessful in the morning, or I get to the woods late I have a tactic that has proven to be effective over the years.  On windy days I use a box call, on most days i cycle through my different tone mouth calls.  I walk, and walk, and walk, I have walked over 12 miles in one day looking for a bird that is hot enough to work.  I let out three yelps every couple hundred yards.  If I get a gobble, I yelp again.  If he answers I find a good place to set up because he is coming.  I like setting up on edges between pines and hardwoods, oak hammocks, crop field edges and so forth. After this point I make sure there are no fences or creeks in the turkeys path to me because its harder to get them to cross.  Again with the calling, less is more.  Personally I don't use any decoys in woods but I will in a field.  In the woods I try to find a place the long beard will come in close and I can get a shot.  The terrain can be used to get a shot on a weary gobbler. Thick patches and scratching with my hands to close the gap work very well if need be.  

Turkey in Strutt
Awesome Turkey in Strut (Photo by: Larry Ditto)

Spot and Stalk- Alot of times you will know the areas the birds are.  Some days they will not respond no matter what you do.  I have killed several birds by seeing them before they see me.  I walk very slow and quiet in the woods looking for them.  Gobblers are very large and dark and stand out well in the woods or in fields.  If you walk slow and quiet enough you will find them.  Then I like to soft call at them.  Sometimes this will spook a weary bird, other times they will come right in.  The majority of the birds I find this was will keep about their business.  I have killed several birds by taking my boots of and sneaking up to them or even belly crawling towards them.  A very exciting way to get the job done on public land.  Be very careful on public land when it comes to other hunters.  Be sure of what your calling at and what your shooting at.

What is a strut zone?

When a bird is patterned during the season they will have specific area they like to go after the hens leave them late morning.  A lot of times you can see a figure 8 pattern on the ground with some feathers around and scratch marks.  They like swamps, ridges, and even small openings to strut in.  When I locate a bird in his strut zone I will come back the next day and set up a few decoys in the area.  A strutter decoy works well in this situation with a hen or a jake mixed in. Often times calling is not even needed when hunting with decoys.

Turkey hunting is an art and all I can do is tell you my experiences.  You will have to learn on your own, learn the specific clucks and calls for situations.  These birds are very weary, especially on public land.  I have ruined many hunts but I have learned from my experiences.  A few other tips I will leave you with.  

Turkey Hunting Tips
  • Hunt with a partner.  Older birds will come in silent, from behind, or stay just out of shotgun range.  Hunting with a partner will help you get the job done.  
  • Don't be afraid to move back away from the bird.  If he thinks you are moving away he will close the distance. 
  • Be careful when using gobbler decoys and even making the gobbler call as it will call in nearby hunters as well as birds.
  • Less calling is more.  Late season on public land all I do is cluck, purr, and whine.  
  • Don’t be afraid to hunt all day.  Hens leave gobblers throughout the day and they will get fired up.  
  • Try different sounding calls, what sounds good to you may not sound good to the turkeys that day.  Rotate different diaphragms or slate call strikers.  I always have my turkey vest loaded with different cut diaphragms and different strikers from Legacy Calls.  The Moonshine Series Keg Thumper with the Purple Heart Striker is my go to pot call and the Legacy Calls Fatal Attraction diaphragm mouth call or the Lone Hen 2.5 are my go to mouth calls.

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