The last week in April I’d roosted some turkeys on a bluff out at my uncle’s farm in Pope County, Missouri. I’d taken a bird off that bluff, four mornings earlier. When we went in to hunt the turkeys on the bluff again, I was set up somewhat wrong. Because the turkeys had quit gobbling as much as they did at the first of the season, I had set up further-back away from the turkey than I really wanted to be. In the late season, I try to set up close to turkeys to make the journey from the roost to my stand site as easy as possible for the tom. I didn’t get the turkey to gobbling very good before he flew down. When he flew down, he hit the ground with a bunch of hens. I called to that turkey for 45 minutes more after he hit the ground, and he never gobbled. So, I left that turkey for a while and went to hunt another turkey.
One of the secrets to successfully taking late-season turkeys is that if you don’t bag your gobbler when he flies from the roost, and he gets with a flock of hens, he’ll stay with those hens, until he either breeds one of them, or the hens go to the nest. However, if you’ll leave that turkey alone until about mid-morning, go back to him in about the same area you’ve called to him before, and use the same calls or even a different call, you often can crank that gobbler up again.
The bird probably thinks, “There’s a hen that was coming to me this morning when I gobbled from the roost. She just arrived late, and I’d already left and gone to the other hens. I’ll go back and check her out.” This is the tactic we used, and when the gobblers started gobbling, he was down in the timber. Well, this tactic allowed me to move a little closer to him. I found that later in the morning when a gobbler has dodged all the other hunters and all his hens have gone to nest, the longbeard feels more comfortable going to a hen call then he will earlier.
When I first struck this turkey, he was about 200 yards from us. My producer, Tony Glidewell, and I were taking a break. Every now and then, the gobbler would answer me, but he wasn’t fired-up. Finally, we walked about 100 yards over a hill and down into the timber where the gobbler was gobbling. Once we sat down and started calling, the turkey we’d been trying to call to, gobbled, and then a second tom gobbled.
Here’s why. When we called to the turkey the first time, and he was slow to answer, the gobbler knew that if this was really a hen wanting to breed that answered him, and that she would start moving toward him, which is exactly what we did. When that gobbler heard the hen getting closer, he started gobbling more, to not only let her know where he was, but also to let her know he was coming to see her. Once the second gobbler heard this romancing going on, he decided he’d come meet this hen also. So, when the turkeys gobbled back to me, I started cutting to them, saying, “Yes, sir, on my way to come meet you.”
I really believe that fired-up cutting is what made those toms come all the way to the gun. I was using Hunter’s Specialties’ Smokin’ Gun Slate and a Tech 3 Infinity Latex diaphragm call.
One of the best ways to take a gobbler at the end of the season is to use what we call, “Getting into the turkey’s head.” When you’ve been hunting turkeys long enough, you should be able to think like they think. If you know what that gobbler thinks a hen should do after he gobbles, and if you can imitate correctly what the hen should do, then that gobbler has every reason to believe that you’re a hen instead of a hunter. The gobbler will do what you think he should do. The best turkey-hunting strategies in the sport of gobbler chasing are revealed when you learn to think like a turkey.