The Tom’s hormones are at their peak and the Hens are playing hard to get, but even these incredible birds can not resist the Ritual Dance & Courting Struts when Nature calls.
The Morning Hunt
It’s was 5:45 am on Saturday morning when I sat down on the front porch to savor the moment of a new dawn. The temperature is cool and I can see the fog rising, which makes a picture perfect hunt. As I took a few moments to enjoy the sounds of nature waking up I could hear the Toms Gobbling throughout the valley. A few minutes later I picked up my pack, decoy, and calls and set out to see if I could call in and video a Tom Turkey.
Where To Set-UP
My first set-up (6:15 am) was on the wood line at the top of the valley along the field edge. As I placed my decoy I could see a large Tom (30lbs best guess) in the middle of a herd of deer, just going to town gobbling, which was so amazing I just stood there taking it in and totally forgot to video him.
Not thinking to get my video camera out I quickly got positioned and began working that Old Tom, but that only pushed the deer off, taking him with them (Note, the smart Turkeys will hang around the deer for added detection of intruders). With a few more Hen Clucks I caught the attention of a younger flock of Toms working the field edge and the Hens, which were still in the their roost (Trees) just North of my position. At 7:00 am things went quiet, but the hens were still in the trees and I knew I would not get those Toms out from under them, so I figured I would try something that seems to work for me. I picked up my decoy and started to sneak toward the Hens to get them to fly down, separating them from the Toms. It worked perfectly as the Hens flew down across the valley and the Toms ran down the field edge. At this point I knew I had them and headed down to the bottom to setup between them. At 7:30 am I finally got two Toms to answer back to my Hen clucks, but they were still a long ways away. 30 minutes later I had those two Toms within 100 yards and the next thing I knew they were 40 yards and Gobbling. What a wake up that was as they came in unseen and sent shivers down my back as their gobble went right through me.
Tip: Once you have the Toms within 100 yards you better be ready with your gun as they will be on top of you within seconds and then it’s too late to be moving and getting your gun ready.
Tip; If the Turkeys are heading away from you pick-up, circle around (staying out of site), and setup again. Do not waste your time trying to call a Tom off Hens. Instead get between them and make the Tom’s think you’re part of the flock of Hens.
When To Be In The Woods
I like to be in the woods before the sun starts to rise, as the Toms will get out of their roost and start their dancing and gobbling long before the Hens start to stretch their wings and fly down. This give you the benefit of knowing where the Turkeys are and your first opportunity for calling in a Tom, before the Hens start to move.
Then around 8:30 am things start to get quiet as the gobbling slows to a minimum or a full stop. At ~9:30 am the Hens will kick the Toms off, which gives you your next best opportunity to pull in a Tom, but be ready as they come in quiet and may catch you off guard. After this I leave the woods until evening, hunting the two hours before the Turkeys get back into their roost.
Tip; Toms will be in the woods all day scouting for the Hens and can be called in. However it is the warmest time of the day and seldom will the Toms answer back to a call, so you need to be alert and ready.
Tip; Field-edges are a great place to set up first thing in the morning and at evening, but during the day focus in the woods, valley, and river bottoms.
Tip; In the Spring the Hens will stay in the trees well after the sunrise, flying out between 7:15 – 7:30. Where these hens go is where the Toms will follow, so plan your trip to that.
Easiest Way To Take A Tom
The easiest and fastest way I have found to bag a Turkey is to locate the Tom’s before Dawn (calling & listening to their Gobbles). Then approach quickly and use a Hen call to see if you can work that Tom in. If you have not gotten a shot by 7:00 am then try to approach the hens before they leave the trees, working between them and the Toms, trying not to push the Tom’s off before getting the hens to fly out of the roost. This will let the Toms know where the Hens went right before you push them off in the opposite direction. Now circle around toward the hens, away from the Toms and setup between them. Using your hen call start working those Toms you chased away and who are actively searching for those Hens. I have taken many Turkeys doing this and by 8:30 am your heading home.
Tip: Don’t spend hours in one spot calling, be willing to move and go after them…