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Late Season Turkey Tactics
So you've been out hunting turkey all spring and haven't had any luck. Now is the time to reassess what you're doing and get yourself back into the game. Making just a few changes to your strategy can make a huge difference in the outcome of your hunt. Late season turkey hunting can be very challenging; these turkeys didn’t live this long by making mistakes. You're going to need to up your game if you plan on taking one of these toms down.
Patience is the key
This late in the season it's very easy to get discouraged. If you're focusing on all the misses or mistakes you've had thus far then you aren't going to be in the right frame of mind to bag a gobbler. One thing is for sure, if you don’t get out there then you are guaranteed to end up without a turkey in your freezer this season. Be sure that you take the time needed to get your hunt planned out, be careful when putting on your camouflage and possibly try wearing something new. Be patient in your approach; don't get down on yourself or your luck. Being in the right mental state will really help you have the confidence you need to track down one of these clever birds.
The Setup is Critical
This late in the season these toms have heard about every call there is, both good and bad. Your calls can out you in an instant if they aren't up to par. However, even the best turkey caller will run into trouble in the late season if they're using their calls too much. A gobbler might come down to one of your calls, but he won't always respond right away. Chances are he'll try to quietly sneak around looking for a hen. You might have to setup a little further away this time of year. Most hunters are more comfortable being able to see the tom they're after, but if you can see your tom coming then chances are he'll be able to see you too. Many flocks follow comfortable movement patterns around this time of year, if you have extra time try scouting the day before to find what movements they are taking, then find a good spot to ambush your tom.
Adapt with the Birds
In the late season most turkeys have adapted to all of the tricks that hunters are using. They know what popular calls sound like, they are wary of common decoys and most importantly they know when you’re coming. Many turkeys will wait out the hunters this time of year; they patiently sit in their roost until hunters have come and gone. In order to adapt to the turkeys try starting your hunt mid to late morning or even in the afternoon if it legal in your area. About this time of day turkeys start to relax a little and might let their guard down a bit.
Bust ‘Em Up
If you've tried everything you can think of and still haven't had any success then it's worth trying a few unusual tactics such as breaking up a flock. It's not the easiest or most reliable tactic, but has worked and is worth a shot. Try either breaking up a flock right at dawn or while they're in a field. If you can separate a tom from the hens then you'll have a shot at taking advantage of the tom feeling alone. Since the tom will be eager to reunite with the hens he's more likely to respond to calls and gobble. If you can make your calls convincing enough that he heads your way then you'll have a shot at taking him down. This can be an effective tactic when all else fails, just be sure to only use it if you’re sure there aren't other hunters in the area, this tactic could easily upset them.
There you have it, now get out there and try again before the season is over. Just remember that these birds are crafty and it's going to be a real challenge to bag one. Be patient with yourself and keep in mind that because of the late season challenges this could end up being on of your most rewarding hunts.
Turkey Hunting Buyer's Guide
Turkeys are formidable birds that will keep you guessing during a hunt. Those Toms may not look the part, but they can be tough buggers to bag. You'll need the right gear to have a successful hunt. As with all forms of hunting, having the right gear and knowing how and when to use it will make all the difference. Turkey gear is essential to bagging a gobbler, so be sure you have the following next time you’re out to take on Tom.
Calls are arguably one of the most vital parts of hunting turkey. Knowing how to use the right calls and having enough different calls to create the proper scene can increase your hunting success immensely. Turkeys are very smart animals and will know right away if your calling isn't up to snuff. Be sure to practice all your diaphragm, box and slate calls. Using each of these calls, try to learn different ways to use them. There are a wide variety of different sounds that each can make, including clucks, purrs, putts, fly down, yelp, gobbles and cutts. Spend time mastering different calls and do your homework to know when you should use each of the different types of calls. Calling takes a lot of practice, so be sure to put in the time to get things right. A good place to start is finding a place where you can make some noise and perfect your calling techniques.
Turkey Vests and Camo
Turkeys aren't the dumb birds they look to be, if you aren't wearing the right type of camo you could be in for a long day of hunting. Turkeys have sharp vision and will be keen to spot you if you’re not well blended into your surroundings. Dress yourself from head to toe in camo and set up a good blind if you can. Don’t forget to get yourself a nice vest for packing in all you'll need. Face paint is also adds to your camouflage -- get yourself good and covered before making the trip.
As with most decoys, knowing when and where to use them is the toughest part. Having a good variety of decoys to choose from never hurt anyone though. With turkeys it's a good idea to follow the old adage that, “less is more.” Don’t pollute the area with decoys, it won't look natural and you'll have a tough time bringing in any gobblers. Use a hen or a hen and Tom to create the best illusion. Keep your decoys close to the edge of a clearing, you don’t want them looking like a loner out in the middle of the field. Try to angle the hen as if she is heading in or out of the clearing but be sure she’s not too obscured.
Hiding yourself and your gear can really be a challenge when turkey hunting however if you set up a blind for yourself, you won't have as much to worry about. Since turkey hunting can often be a game of patience it's also a good idea to have a comfortable seat that is also camouflaged. You could be sitting for a while, so why not take a load off and wait this one out without killing your back?
A choke tube can give you less of a spread in order to tighten your shot patterns. Many choke tubes offer a screw-in option that allows you to change your choke on the fly to match your conditions. Be sure to know which chokes will work best with your gun and the type of turkey loads that you're shooting. Having a few chokes on hand when you're out hunting will give you a few options so you'll have the right amount of spread for what the situation calls for.
The Five Biggest Mistakes Turkey Hunters Make
Spring is almost here, so that means the spring turkey hunt is just around the corner. It's time to brush up on turkey hunting tactics and make sure that you are prepared for the coming hunt. There are a few common mistakes that turkey hunters, both beginning and experienced, seem to make every season. These can be costly and troublesome mistakes; with the season just about to start, you'll want to make sure you avoid them.
Not Scouting or Knowing Your Terrain
This is likely the most common mistake most turkey hunters make, as scouting can often get tedious. If you want to even the playing field, however, scouting is one of the most important factors in having a successful hunt. You can never know too much about the turkey population or the lay of the land. Ask yourself a few simple questions before you choose your hunting area: Does this area have a preferred food source? Have you found movement patters and strutting areas? Are there any obstacles such as creeks or fences that could prevent turkeys from being called in? Are there obvious signs that the area has been well hunted by other hunters? By asking yourself a few simple questions such as these and putting in real time to know your preferred hunting area you'll be able to cross off quite a few pitfalls that turkey hunters experience. Give yourself as much time as you can afford to prepare properly and maximize your hunt.
Calling Too Much, Too Little and Lacking Variety
Many new turkey hunters have the tendency to call too often. This can sound unnatural in many cases and can lead to you spooking away your gobblers. Playing on the bird's curiosity can often lead to a better shot. It's just like marriage -- sometimes you need to know when to shut up and listen. Though this is a common mistake with new turkey hunters, the opposite is also true: calling too little will also sound unnatural and could spook any potential birds. The last thing you want to do is draw in a Tom who is just out of range and not be able to seal the deal. You'll want to have a variety of different calls on hand when you head out. If you're heading out with only one type of call you'll probably want to have some other options. Most fisherman don't go fishing with just one lure, they bring an entire tackle box full of options. You'll want to have a few options as well, including mouth, slate and box calls. There isn't any secret pattern to calling turkeys, but if you're just beginning try using the strategy of playing hard to get. Start out soft and test the waters a little. Give a few tree yelps, maybe a cluck or two and some purrs. If your Tom answers wait about ten minutes before calling again. Repeat the call again to verify that he's still in the same tree. Don't call him too much when he's up there, you want him to come down. When you hear him fly down or his gobble sounds a little more muffled you can make a fly-down cackle then use a few shot yelps so he knows you're interested. If he bites and gobbles again you'll know you’ve got his attention.
All Dressed Up with Nothing to Shoot
Let's face it; most of us think that birds are rather oblivious and that a young Tom won't be able to distinguish one type of camo from another. Being obsessive about your camouflage is going to get you a lot farther in deceiving these birds. Make sure that every part of you has some sort of camouflage; turkeys are great at picking out lazy hunters who haven't applied face paint or didn't put in the time or effort to properly hide themselves. Also, if you're in a well hunted area, be sure to have an article of blaze to keep yourself safe, but hide it in your vest once you start calling.
Not Getting Up Early Enough
The early bird might get the worm, but the lazy hunter wont bag the turkey. You need to have an early start if you want to make this a successful hunt. Calling is most effective at daybreak. Roosts make a lot of noise when they come down out of trees and that usually happens early in the morning. As a bonus, you'll also be more likely to beat any other potential hunters to your preferred hunting area.
Using Too Many Decoys
If you're moving from waterfowl hunting to turkey hunting you may be shocked at how few decoys you really need -- if any at all. If you're used to hauling in bundles of decoys then you might have a hard time just setting out a few small decoys. Decoys are great in the right scenarios and can really add to your hunt. You'll want to set them up with some sort of obstruction or bend in order to get your gobbler into range. There are also other reasons to use decoys sparingly. Decoys can add a lot of weight to your vest; not to mention setting them up can also add time and noise that may make your hunt all the harder. Set up decoys using the right angles so that any turkey heading your way won't be scared off.
All in all, if you do your homework and prepare yourself for your hunt, you'll have a good time and hopefully be able to call in a great bird. Give yourself time to scout the area and make sure that you put in the time to practice calls, dress in the proper camo and make it to the hunting ground early. Following these simple rules will give you the best chance to make your turkey hunt successful.
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