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Mid-Day Success

Mid Day is often your best time to kill a mature Tom

How many times have you seen it? You get together with a buddy to go hunting on opening day, and an hour and a half into it, he’s ready to go because he hasn’t heard a gobble. Turkey hunters know that not every morning brings a chorus of gobbling activity. But that doesn’t mean the birds aren’t there and won’t respond. This is where the true turkey killers separate themselves from casual turkey hunters.

Give me a quiet morning, and I’ll give you a bird in the bed of my truck by 2:00 p.m. (Now it doesn’t happen every time, but more times than not). Turkeys are very predictable in many ways, and one of these is their morning patterns. It happens something like this.

Roosted birds will fly down and gather with some hens, they will parade around and strut their stuff for a few hours trying to breed more and more hens. Hens, on the other hand are more interested in getting some breakfast before they wander off to their nests to lay eggs. This usually happens around mid-day. Then they will go back to feeding, until they roost for the night. Once the hens have laid all of their eggs, (usually around 12-14) they will then sit on their nest until the eggs hatch.

It’s during this ‘egg laying’ period when gobblers are the most susceptible of the day. They have done their morning rounds, the hens have left them, and they are wondering around looking for any willing suitor. Setting up in a good feeding ground, and calling softly will bring gobblers in willingly and often quickly.

Last season on our annual ‘youth day’, I had my eleven year old son out for his first turkey hunt. That morning he killed a nice Jake  and after taking a few hundred pictures, I asked him if he wanted to go kill a mature bird. It was 11:00 a.m. He willingly said he wanted to go give it a try.  

Moving to a known area where hens nest, I figured some gobblers would be around to check things out. We set up and I laid into my tube call to see if there were any willing takers. Immediately a gobble erupted from around 400 yards away. I looked at my son and said, “get ready, he will be in your lap in about 8-10 minutes. After I got his attention with the tube call, I quieted it down to act somewhat uninterested. Using soft purrs and some soft yelps, the gobbler announced his presence a minute later about half the distance. I looked at my son whose eyes were as big as hub caps. I encouraged him to relax. A few more purrs and soft yelps from a slate, I saw him running through the woods. I slowly pointed in the direction. At that moment he was no more than fifty yards and closing fast. He gobbled again and began to strut. At this point I shut up, and whispered to my son who was sitting between my legs, “enjoy the show, this is what it’s all about”.  Then I instructed him to get ready, and when I say, lift the gun and get ready to kill that bird. As the gobbler closed the distance, he was gobbling and strutting almost with every step. As the bird got to twenty yards his head went behind a pine tree and I told my son to raise his gun, a 20 gauge Browning loaded with some Winchester # 5 in 3”. “When he steps out from behind that tree, kill him” I whispered. When the bird stepped from behind the tree he was twelve yards away, my son fired two feet over his head and it was over.

When I asked how he missed my son said; “Daddy, I couldn’t breathe, my heart was beating so hard, I couldn’t breathe.” I just laughed and said, son, that’s why I turkey hunt.

The point is, when most hunters were done for the day, we had a great hunt with a great bird. The opportunity was there to kill a big gobbler, a definite 3 year old bird. So as the sun rises higher and higher in the sky, instead of getting discouraged, stick with it and your chances increase as the day grows longer.