Feature Article: Late Season Gobbler

Late-season gobblers

BY DURWOOD HOLLIS/Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Apr 18, 2019

The last days of the season call for a change of plans

With little time left in the annual spring turkey season, many are scrambling to get in on that one last hunting opportunity. We have a tendency, however, to forget that the last few days of turkey season isn’t at all like opening week. The birds have no doubt seen hunters in the field, heard more calling (some good, some bad!) than you can imagine and spent a lot of effort avoiding becoming turkey dinner. In a word it’s not going to be easy!

successcomesSUCCESS COMES TO those who wait!

In contrast to the opener, Tom birds are far more wary. While there will be some gobbling going on, older and wiser birds may remain silent. Since many have already been participants in battle and lost more than a few feathers, they are tied of getting beat up. While they still want to be involved, they’re not going to risk getting into another fight. To put one of these birds within range of your scattergun it’s going to take more than just a little strategy. It’s going to take a whole new approach.

Decoys: First of all, don’t over use decoys. While decoys can be effective, late in the season nothing more than a single hen decoy is the best approach. A gobbler coming to investigate your setup can easily be spooked by a Tom decoy even if it’s only a Jake Since late in the season most hens are busy with their next duties, don’t put out several hen decoys. Keep your set to a minimum number of faux birds and make sure what you do use are extremely realistic.

Calling: By the last few days of the season, Tom birds have heard it all. The best calling approach is once again minimal. While we all like to hear the birds talk back to use, late in the season silence can be golden! Better to keep a little mystery in the game, than to play all of your cards at once. When you lay off of the call, you factor into a gobbler’s curiosity. The hen you’re trying to imitate should seem innocent, shy and not overly enthusiastic about breeding. The time to get aggressive has past and now you must practice seductive calling.

gettingatomGETTING A TOM in front of the gun is never easy, but when it does, there’s nothing quite like it. PHOTOS BY DURWOOD HOLLIS

Set up: Avoid setting up where you’ve taken birds in the past. A turkey’s brain may only be the size of a walnut, but they are not stupid! Don’t expect to take birds over and over again in the very same location. Switch things up and move to a new setting that provides all of the necessary elements of camouflage, clear shooting lanes and proper strutting zones. And make sure your camouflage is total and complete, including face, hands and firearm. Even the slightest thing out of place is all it takes to ruin the best setup.

Don’t Leave Early: Remember, it may take more time that usual for a late-season gobbler to come to your setup. Some birds will come slowly, quietly and with great caution, so be prepared to wail such a bird out. The worst thing you can do is start becoming impatient and leaving too soon. If you’ve created a good setup, then spend the time necessary for it to produce the desired results. If you have a difficult time staying quietly in the blind, then take along a pocket book and read a page or so, looking up from time-to-time to check things out occasionally. Remember it’s a process, not a race to the finish.

tracksaresolidTRACKS ARE SOLID evidence of the presence of birds in the area.

USING THE RIGHT shells can make a real difference.

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