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Wait for late-morning toms

May 10, 2013 at 08:04 AM

The State Journal-Register

This late in the turkey season, most of the dumb toms have been deep-fried.

Getting one close enough to shoot at can be challenging, if not completely frustrating. Because I am unburdened with high expectations, this is my favorite time to hunt turkeys. A successful turkey hunt for me has little to do with plucking a turkey and a lot to do with just being out there soaking up some springtime.

I have no theory on how to hunt late-season birds. That makes me one of the very few hunters without one.

Many experienced hunters say turkeys get call shy late in the season, especially in areas where the birds have been pressured. It might be a good idea to hunt the call-shy bird with your call in your pocket.

Scout the area and pattern the birds just like a deer hunter. Make note of the strutting zones and travel routes, and what time Mr. Tom Turkey spreads his fan in these areas. Then, get out there the early the next day, use whatever natural cover is available and wait for him to show up. If you’re particularly proud of your calling ability, this approach probably isn’t for you.

Another radical late season tactic involves trying to separate Mr. Turkey from his favorite hens when they are all on the roost. Go to the roost area well before daylight, get under the roost and send up such a racket that the birds will scatter before they would normally fly down.

When it gets light and Tom gets lonely and starts to gobble, move toward him in hopes of getting there before a real hen finds him.

This is not a tactic to be used anywhere there are likely to be other hunters on public or private land. Frankly, I’d keep this one in the hunting bag. If anyone saw or heard you doing this, the best-case scenario would be looking really stupid in front of your fellow hunters.

I’m partial to experts who say late in the season is a good time to skip the dawn patrol and go out around 10 a.m. By mid-morning, the toms have had their eye-opener and are on the prowl again. They may come a’ runnin’ when they hear a call.

Besides that, I see big advantages to this approach. I’m not getting my feet tangled up in the dark, and dumping hot coffee on myself. I don’t have to dress as warm. It’s full daylight. I can look over likely spots from a high vantage point, spot the birds that are out and use the terrain to move toward them, without falling in the crik.

And maybe the best of all, I can see the morels I might have stepped on in the dark.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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