Spring fever: Off-hours prime tom turkey time
Yeah, every turkey hunter has to be out at sunrise if for nothing else than to hear gobbling from the roost. I get that, and I love it, too. But if you’re limited on time and really want to increase your efficiency in the turkey woods, consider heading afield later.
This season, after covering a few states, I’ve called in six birds for me and my hunting partners that have ended up in the freezer. Of those, two came at sunrise. The rest all fell between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Though I never skip the sunrise hunt unless a personal priority arises, this trend of daytime kills is more common than ever for me. In fact, if I had to pick a two-hour window to hunt in which I thought my odds would be highest for tagging out, it would be a toss-up between 10 a.m. to noon, or during the 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. afternoon slot.
While the gobbling isn’t usually overwhelming during either time period, the reality is that a bird that is sounding off then is far more likely to approach me. He’s probably out cruising after his girlfriend decided to lie down on her nest, or has given up on the hens he’s courted all morning for new prospects.
It doesn’t matter why a longbeard is out there and receptive to your yelps as long as he is. And mid-day is when he likely will be. This is something you truly start to understand if you spend full days afield in the spring. The dark-to-dark hunts really can clue you into the peak activity periods, or simply the fact that it only takes one lunchtime bird to change the course of a full day.
Consider that as we slide into the back half of the season. If you aren’t having much luck talking the morning birds into your decoys, try them later in the day. You might be surprised at how willing those same gobblers are to strutting their stuff around your decoy.