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Never Give Up


as the shadows lengthen, the opportunities get better.

An interesting event happened during the first week of Turkey season here in South Carolina. While the birds on my property proved elusive and somewhat quiet. I was determined to find a willing bird. My partner Phil, (whose name I changed for his protection) for this day was not so willing. Like many hunters who were transferred here from other states, he was not accustomed to hunting turkeys past noon or 1:00 p.m. “If you don’t have him killed by 1:00 you won’t kill him.” He said.

Having hunted birds from pre-dawn to dusk on many occasions, I know that sure the mornings are more exciting, and more lucrative. But, many a lonely Tom has fallen to the hunter’s gun well past the mid-day hour. In fact I personally know a few very experienced hunters who never even hit the woods until around 10:00 a.m. and they seem to always get their season’s limit of turkeys. In a recent conversation, one said, “Early in the season when the hens are controlling the situation, there’s no need to be out there until the hens have gone to nest.” There is a lot of validity to this statement. When the hens are still in breeding mode, the gobblers are a lot more difficult to call and respond to a hunter’s seduction. However, when the hens have their morning fill, both of food and loving, they head for their nest to lay their egg for the day. Hens will usually lay an egg a day for 12-14 days when she’s finished; she will sit on the nest non-stop until the eggs hatch.

Experience shows that from 2:00-4:30 is a great time to call a lonely Tom into gun range. They are not as vocal in the afternoons, and tend to be a bit more skittish at committing a hunter willing to put in the work can fill his tag after lunch.

When Gobblers are with hens, sometimes its better to wait them out for an opportunity

Charles Hudson of Travelers Rest, SC is a legend among turkey hunters in South Carolina, having taken his first bird in the early 1960’s and has pursued turkeys with abandon ever since. Hudson says, “I can’t kill a turkey if I can’t find him, you have to get after them.” Hudson has made a habit of killing birds late in the day. “If I can, I’ll keep walking and calling until I get a willing bird, often in the early season this may not happen until well after lunch.” Hunters who give up too early are missing some of the finest hunting there is.

A recent experience had me playing chess with a bird for several hours, I knew he was with some hens, so I just let him wander off and I noted his direction. After a couple hours, I circled to where I suspected him to be and sure enough, he answered my calls. Several maneuvers later he was walking into my sights. I must admit, it was kind of sad to end the duel that had lasted most of the day, but not another bird has pushed me that hard. Squeezing the trigger was one of the highlights of my hunting career. This bird pushed me to my limits as a hunter and as a caller of turkeys. He wasn’t a supreme trophy as measurements go, but the hunt was one of the finest ever experienced.

As the day’s linger on, stay after the birds, they are still there, they are still wanting to find a willing hen. If we offer just the right combination, at just the right time, we can find ourselves wrapping a tag on a wily old gobbler as the sun sets.