Any turkey hunter will tell you: It’s important to be there at dawn. That’s when they gobble the most, and we live for that sound. But gobbling is one thing, and coming to the call is another. Sometimes, you’ll find a hot, lonely gobbler that pitches down in your direction, comes marching in and surrenders, but it’s far from a sure thing. More often than not, a bird gobbling on the roost already has a game plan. Maybe he’s roosted close to his hens. Maybe he wants to go in a specific direction when he flies down. If you’re not on his planned travel route for the day, you’re going to lose.
A few hours later, though, things can be much different. There’s not as much gobbling then, but if you find one that will talk to you, you have a much better chance of doing something with him. According to my turkey hunting logbook, only 16 of the past 75 gobblers I’ve killed were taken during the first two hours of daylight. Seven more were killed after 5 p.m. The remaining 52 birds — more than two-thirds of the total — were taken from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Forty-four came to the gun from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
WAIT A BIT
The next time silence is all you hear, don’t give up and quit. Just find a comfortable spot with a decent field of view where you can hear a fair amount of turkey country, and sit for a while. Call occasionally, read a book or just relax and enjoy the morning.
Calling and moving can be counterproductive during that early-morning quiet time. Turkey hunting can be energy-sapping after a few days, and a smart hunter never passes up the opportunity to get a little rest.
You’ll kill a gobbler every now and then during this sitting spell, but it’s mostly just an exercise in patience.
Unless I hear a gobbler, I usually stay put until about 9:30 a.m., at which time I start moving. Covering ground slowly and stopping to call every 100 yards or so seems to work best.
When I’m prospecting for a turkey in the middle of the day, I almost always start with a crow call. If nothing answers, I usually wait a minute or two and then give a sharp but short series of cutting and yelping on a diaphragm or box, or sometimes both simultaneously.
One important tip, though: Never make a turkey call unless you’re standing beside a suitable set-up tree. When a nearby gobbler blows your hat off your head in response to your call, it tends to fluster you a little. Be ready.
Although the usual scenario for midday gobblers is that he answers your calling and reveals himself, it’s not uncommon to find a bird gobbling on his own. When this happens, don’t get in too big a rush to call to him. For the moment, you know where he is, but he doesn’t know about you yet. It’s an important advantage. Make good use of it.
If you’ve been one of those early-quitting turkey hunters, you might try the wait-a-bit technique next time they quit gobbling. It might be the best two hours you ever wasted.