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Midday Delight



The colors of a late season turkey

The colors of a late season turkey

          I see far too many turkey hunters who have packed it all in by 9:00 a.m. heading home dejected that the ole Tom outsmarted them again. As someone who hunts turkeys all day, I have never understood this. I feel like I am cheating myself if I go home before dark. I wish I knew how many mid-day turkeys have been introduced to my Benelli or bow after 11:00 but I can’t remember.

The hunting strategies must change with the rising sun, but the success rate doesn’t have to decline. This is especially true as the season drags on nearer the end of the season. More and more hens have been bred and are now incubating most of the day, gobblers in search for love will travel far and wide looking for love. The midday hunter will have more cards to hold as the day wears on.

The gobblers are not quite as vocal later in the morning, but there vocalizations mean a lot more. A gobbler that responds around noon, is one that is headed your way. And if he sounds like he is within one hundred yards, more times than not, I plant myself at the nearest tree or cover and wait. A few soft purrs, maybe a cluck or two is all that’s needed. If he is further, I mark the location, high tail it to what I think is half way, plant myself and get ready. In my experience midday gobblers are more aggressive and since they don’t have hens with them. They are looking for any willing hen to come their way. Having said all of this, if there are any hens present at all, drawing him away seems impossible. But perseverance has put many a reluctant gobbler in my sights. Understanding the terrain here is paramount to success.

Just recently, I was forced to watch two longbeards walk off with some hens. Giving them ample time to get out of the way, I made a huge circle across two ridges and planted myself in their path well ahead of them. I knew if they stayed the course, they would walk right by me in a fifteen to twenty minutes. It so happened that they were in route a bit sooner than I anticipated. As I placed an arrow on the string I looked and saw one of the gobblers moving in my direction at about ninety yards. The small creek was a bit of a problem, but some enticing made him cross. As he closed the distance, a sudden PUTT caught my attention, as he turned around and PUTT – PUTT. I knew he didn’t see me, so I strained to see what he was so upset at when I noticed a coyote trotting through the woods. The coyote on one side and the turkey on the other ruined the hunt at that moment. But except for the unplanned interruption in the strategy. Circling around put me directly in the path of the turkeys and had him coming directly to my set up.

An hour or so later while stalking and trying to strike another bird, two o’clock brought another gobble in the bottoms. It turns out this bird was on a neighbor’s property so my advance was halted by the property line. Never the less, the bird was willing.

Giving up on turkeys before you absolutely have to is cheating yourself of some great hunting opportunities. Turkeys will be out feeding all day long up and until they roost for the night. Stay after them and the bird you get at noon is on you will remember for a long time.