Mention spring turkey hunting and thoughts usually turn to daybreak, thundering treetop gobbles and longbeards strutting across in a misty green field. Dawn certainly has its charm, but it’s hardly the only time to hunt turkeys, and some may say it’s not necessarily the most productive time. Maybe they’ve lost their ambition, or maybe they’ve got things figured out. Whether you’re starting late or merely extending your morning, here are a few tips for hunting that period we refer to as “up in the day,”
Dust Bowls – Upon flying down from the roost, the first order of business is food, and turkeys spend much of the early morning filling their crop. Once that’s done, they can turn their attention to feather grooming, which is sometimes followed by a dust bath, believed to help rid themselves of feather lice and other insect pests. They often use the same bowls, which are little more than hollowed out depressions in dry, fine sandy soil. These dust bowls can be a great place to camp out between late morning and early afternoon.
Retrace Your Steps – Remember that bird you called to early in the morning that gobbled back but wouldn’t come a step closer? He remembers you, and he remembers exactly where you called from. He may have had something more important to do then, but now he’s in a wandering mood, and there’s a good chance he’ll end up where you started out. That’s why if you’re out trolling for birds, it’s often a good idea to retrace your steps, heading back out the way you came in, and calling as you go.
Back to the Beginning – If you’re not the run-and-gun type, you can adopt a more sedentary method of the aforementioned. Henned up birds are among the toughest to call. But as the morning wanes hens filter off and the flock dwindles. Then, the randy tom finds himself alone and looking for love. There’s a good chance he remembers your dawn serenade, and will eventually make his way back there.
Save it for a Rainy Day – Turkey hunting in the rain isn’t as much fun. They gobble less, if at all, and they’re much more reluctant to come to a call, being more interested in feeding and keeping warm than chasing turkey tail. Their Achilles’ heel is a propensity to prefer open areas when it’s raining. Get in a pop-up ground blind, plop down in a comfortable chair and wait. If it’s an area you’ve seen birds in with any regularity, they will show up eventually.
Image courtesy Bob Humphrey