Outdoor Articles

9 to 5: Work Full Days for Turkeys

by Wil Askew on September 27th, 2007 in Turkey Hunting

As I tried desperately to locate a tom willing to investigate my lustful yelps, a pleading hen yelp broke the mid-afternoon air.

Every now and then I would get the courtesy gobble as a tom would announce his presence and then follow his hen to abide by her wishes while moving out of earshot.

I was hunting an area that had produced many birds in the past.

I knew if I covered enough ground I would eventually find a bird willing to come to the call.

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It was now roughly 2 p.m. as we headed up another hill, one more to add to an already long day of hunting the opening days of turkey season.

It took awhile before a distant gobble broke through the oaks, but when it did we sprung into action.

The tom would gobble repetitively and then move, the same as all the toms in the morning had done, but with different scenery.

Obviously this tom was with at least one hen that was not nesting, and she was keeping his full and undivided attention.

We advanced our position towards the gobbling tom and were greeted by a large black bear coming down a trail to investigate the source of the calling.

The curious bear circled us at a distance of less than 20 yards and desperately tried to pick apart the brush in search for the hen.

Waiting for the bear to move off was imperative, as we did not want him to run and spook our chance at this tom.

Crossing numerous ridges, I would call and then move along further to try another location.

I decided to give a quick cut on a diaphragm and was instantly greeted with a barrage of gobbling thunder.

My hunting partner excitedly pointed into the direction of the call, and I decided to reconfirm my suspicions with another call.

Sure enough, the gobbling was true and coming closer. We had to move quickly as we raced over to a tree on the edge of a small opening.

Not having much time to set up properly, I leaned against the tree with just enough time to raise the gun into shooting position.

I’d been chasing call-shy toms all day with barely a glimpse of something that would resemble a turkey. Finally the fruits of my labor were being rewarded.

The excited toms gobbled nonstop as they made their way closer. The first bird on the scene was a jake, then another.

I kept my cheek pressed firmly against my gun as I looked down my barrel, keeping the fluorescent bead securely locked on the neck of each bird that passed from left to right.

For a split second I was wondering if this was not just a band of smaller toms, and then realized we were in luck.

Bringing up the rear was a long beard in full strut, proudly displaying his beauty and dominance for the unseen hen.

As the tom strutted closer in all his pride, his efforts were rewarded at 25 yards with a single shot from my Benelli and a load of No. 5s.

I had just practiced what I’d been preaching at countless turkey hunting seminars; you can’t fill your tags if you’re not in the woods.

A quick glance at my watch informed me that it was just after 5 p.m. as we captured some photos and placed the tom in my backpack for the walk out.

This day had begun many hours earlier, with the warm spring sun breaking over the Cascades and greeting us with yet another day of turkey hunting.

It was the third day of the season, and of course the hunting was tough as the toms were being led in many different directions by lovesick hens.

One key factor that many hunters don’t realize is that toms and hens usually don’t hang together all day.

Toms will be heavily entangled in their daily mating rituals, but once the hens decide to nest, a lovesick tom will start seeking another companion.

I’ve become accustomed to the traditions of early season turkey hunting.

I knew this would be the toughest time of the season to hunt, but definitely the most rewarding as well.

With most hunters spending much time indoors through the winter months, we’re anxious to get back into the woods and hear the gobble of a mature tom, and I’m no exception.

Walking and calling was generating plenty of responses, but nothing willing to break away from an actual feathered girlfriend.

The only way to succeed in these tough conditions was to be willing to travel further, call more often and stay out longer.

Persistence is the name of the game when hunting these types of conditions.

I hunt primarily out of a backpack solely because I want to stay as long as possible in the turkey woods.

Having a full-time job and using vacation time to hunt really enforced the fact that I need to be persistent and give it 110 percent in the field.

Being prepared and having the ability to stay nourished and comfortable out in the field will more than double your chances of knocking down a mature tom when many hunters have thrown in the towel for the day.

Remember that tom I harvested earlier?

I didn’t mention that he was joined by six other toms, each one of them gobbling and racing to find the source of the calling.

I’ve managed to bag most of my birds between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. I really enjoy hunting this time of day for mainly one reason: no hunters.

Granted, I’ll get up at first light and head out to an area to either locate or work a bird in the roost tree.

When this plan produces no results, I know I have a pack that contains enough water and food to keep me in the field until dark if needed.

As a hunter you need to figure out the turkeys’ schedule to be successful.

This may take some time, but when you realize where they may be at certain times of day, you can eliminate much unneeded walking to unproductive areas.

Call loud, call often and let the toms know you’re still in the woods.

You can’t harvest what you can’t locate, and they don’t know that you’re there if you don’t broadcast your presence.

People may debate this fact, but I’ve found nothing but success while doing this.

If I hear nothing, then I keep moving until I get a response. When toms do respond during the middle of the day, usually they come on the run.

Spend more time in the field during the spring and more than likely you may find yourself purchasing more turkey tags in the future.

One Response to “9 to 5: Work Full Days for Turkeys”

  1. Walter Peatman Says:

    I have been trying this method and have very little luck this year but i will keep trying.
    The toms just do not seem to be calling back.
    The weather was warm much quicker this spring Thanks for the info.

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