Unusual Spring Turkey Tactics…
What do you do when turkey season is winding down and all the hours spent in the woods still haven’t produced a dead gobbler? As the season starts to wind down, it’s time to start thinking about taking a different approach, an unusual approach to killing your spring longbeard. While there are tons of effective tips and tactics that help a hunter harvest a spring gobbler, those strategies can be thrown out the window as the clock starts ticking closer to the end of the season.
With each passing day, it’s time to throw caution in the wind and use unorthodox methods to bag your spring turkey.
Time To Get Dirty
Hunting blinds have come a long way over the years, but as the season winds down hunters need to take every opportunity to get close to the birds. I am not talking about tent blinds; I am talking about the kind of blind that requires a shovel and a lot of determination. Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty and dig a pit blind. It seems to work wonders for waterfowl hunters and it might just get
you close enough to kill that weary gobbler. When looking for a good pit blind, try to pick a spot that provides a good outline and backdrop. Pit blinds can be very effective, but make sure they are put in a practical spot that doesn’t change the turkey’s previous patterns. Depending on location, a pit blind might the only way to close the distance and get into range of a lovelorn tom. As the
season progresses, turkeys get decoy and call shy. It seems they like to avoid every blind location, so don’t be afraid to take it to another level, one that is under ground.
Be a Party Crasher
Scattering or spooking a flock is nothing new for hunters; however most hunters use this strategy during the fall turkey season. When toms get henned up they are very hard to be called away from their harem. There are a lot of times that a gobbler will respond and gobble just to let you know that everyone is invited to his party, but that tom has no inclination to head in the hunters direction, so don’t plan on that bird leaving all his hens to come to you. This would be a good time to become a party crasher and break up the flock. Walk towards the flock slowly and as the flock starts to scatter, stop and be patient. Eventually the tom will get lonely for all his dates and might be apt to come looking for his hens. Be careful not to spook the flock so much that the gobbler flies off. Hopefully the tom will remain in the general area. Give him some time to calm down and slowly start a calling sequence to see if the lovebird wants to return to his troop of hens. Be careful because most toms won’t gobble after being spooked, so be ready for a tom to come into the call quietly.
Become a Copy Cat
When toms get henned-up it’s almost impossible to draw their attention away from their hens. Sometimes it works better to call to the “boss” hen and try to imitate her calls. If you can irritate her enough, it might just bring her and the rest of the troop into gun range. The boss hen will usually be the loudest and most agitated hen in the bunch. She will be uneasy and annoyed by all the calls and almost respond immediately to the hunter.
When she responds try to copy her exact call. If she yelps twice, yelp twice back at her and try to mimic her sound and pitch. This might just get her mad enough to wander over and check out this new hen that is invading her turf. Hens can be very dominant and aggressive; they will fight in the spring just like the opposite sex. Hopefully it will anger her enough to bring her whole troop over with the boyfriend trailing behind. This might be the only case where it pays off to copy, especially with a boss gobbler hanging up out of range. There have been times when I have called in “boss” hens but the decoy set-up prevented any shots. Make sure your decoys are set-up so the hens have to come into your range to get a good look. I like to set up my decoys about 30 to 40 yards to my left. This allows the birds to come into my set-up without getting to close to the decoys. This might be the only way to get a weary tom into range.
Bag of Tricks
Every hunter has their own little bag of tricks that they dip into when times get tough.
During deer season, I have special grunt call I take out when things have been slow and for some it always seems to work. Turkey hunters aren’t any different; in fact everyone has a favorite call to use. Don’t restrict yourself to one call during the late season; use as many calls as possible.
It seems like certain birds like certain calls. There have been lots of times that a mouth call won’t yield any results and as soon as I switch to a friction call I got toms all around start gobbling. During one late season hunt I went through four different calls until I switched to split reed mouth call. I started cutting on that mouth call and within a minute I saw a beautiful white head crest the horizon and my hunt was over seconds later. The bird was a mature tom that liked the cutting sound produced by that mouth call. I am convinced that big longbeard was in the area and could hear my previous calling. For some reason on that day, he decided that the mouth call was too much to handle and had to come in for a closer look. Never limit yourself to one call or one tactic, don’t be afraid to reach deep into your bag of tricks. It might determine if your tag gets filled this spring.
Keep an open mind and remember that all bets are off the last couple days of the season. While these strategies are unusual and might not work all the time, there are instances where one of these offbeat tactics work to perfection. The result is glorious, a wild turkey dinner and the confidence that comes with killing a weary, late season gobbler.