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The Roving Sportsman… Revise Now to All Day Tactics

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 employ some late-season tactics to get the job done. All-day hunting for spring gobblers began on Saturday, May 18 (which means you can hunt from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset), and you have until the close of the season on Friday, May 31, to seal the deal. Effectively, you more than double your opportunities over the last half of the season.

Usually, the “hot” times are during the first and last hours of the day, but chances may arise anytime throughout the day. 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 consider employing 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, already-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 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 do no calling at all. If the gobbler is interested, he may very well divert his path to his roost to check out your soft calls or 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 half 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.

As the season progresses, 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 gobbler will become interested and respond to your calls.

This year, you will have a condition that you may not be used to. Have you noticed that the leaves have foliated much earlier than in previous spring gobbler seasons? As a result, the heavier leaf presence has the effect of dampening sound. If you hear a gobbler respond to your calls, remember that he is probably closer than you may think since the sounds you make do not carry as far as when no leaves are present.