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The Roving Sportsman… It’s Crunch Time!

Whether you are seeking to fill your second spring gobbler tag, or you are still looking to connect with the first bird, there is still time to use some late season tactics to get the job done. You have until close of season on Saturday, May 30 to seal the deal and all-day hunting is now in effect, which means that the legal shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. The longer you can stay afield, the greater the possibility of success. If you must limit your time, concentrate on the early and late parts of the day and employ some of these late season tactics.

Roosting a gobbler:

Late afternoon is a great time to locate a gobbler in one of his favorite feeding areas, be it an area heavy with oak trees or grape vines, an old picked corn field where some residual corn may still be on the ground, or an abandoned field that may have a fresh crop of insects in it. If you are watching from afar, note the exact location where the old bird leaves the field and enters the woods to head to his roost. This is a perfect spot to set up near in the pre-dawn darkness, as a bird will often return to a field or forest opening via the exact spot where he exited it the night before.

If you happen to be closer to the bird and in a position to do so, you might consider setting up to intercept him as he leaves the field headed to his overnight roost spot. Calling should be soft and very limited, and consider merely scratching in the leaves to imitate a feeding turkey and don’t do any calling at all. If the gobbler is interested, he may very well divert his path to his roost to check out your scratching.

Finally, if he roosts near your location, you should be able to hear his wing beats as he flaps his way up to the roost. If not, try to avoid making any turkey sounds at all, but instead, use a locator call such as an owl or crow call to make him shock gobble and give away his location. Wait until well after total darkness to slip away, otherwise there is a good chance he will spot any movement you make.

Limit your calling:

By this time in the season, most gobblers have heard it all, and have heard it many times from one hunter or another. No matter what calls you make, chances are good that someone has already tried to lure him in with whatever you may throw at him. It is time now to limit your calling and to tone it down a bit. Soft calls of shorter duration are in order, and scratching in the leaves with or without additional calling may be your best bet. Using a stick, make three strokes through the leaves in a sequence of scratch, scratch (short pause) scratch. If you add any turkey calls at all, make them soft and of short duration, either a soft purr, soft cluck or two or a soft yelp. Then repeat the scratching of the leaves. Be prepared to sit still for nearly an hour after the scratching and calling. Remember, if there is any hunting pressure at all in the area you hunt, the gobblers will be very cautious in their approach to check out any calling, and more than likely will come in silently.

With warmer temperatures finally upon us, the turkeys will be more apt to be active throughout the day. If temperatures become too warm, they may loaf a bit and will hang out in shaded areas until the temperatures cool down. Focus your time on the early or late hours of the hunting period, but stay with it if possible throughout the day — you just never know when an old Tom will become interested and respond to your calls.

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