Great article from Aniston on Turkey decoys late season
Late spring season requires some different and sometimes tougher tactics for wary turkeys. While some hunters may feel their yelps, clucks and cackles have fallen on deaf turkey ears, there are plenty of old birds around. A few hunters may have moved on to try their luck at fishing, but it’s not too late to bag a gobbler before season’s end.
Since opening day, turkeys have been courted and wooed by hunters scratching, blowing or grinding out sounds from their callers. Late in the spring turkey season, almost every bird around has heard every type of sound that can come from a turkey call. Many hunters have already bagged more than one bird, but a few others are trying to fill any remaining tag slots before the season closes.
These boots are made for walking
One method turkey hunters can use is to try to find a place where no one or very few have hunted during the season. This may sound impossible, especially on public land, but there are areas that hold turkeys where hunters have yet to venture.
“You have to get out and do some walking,” said Bob Phillips of Lincoln. “Hunters may have to get further back in the woods to find a bird.”
Gobbler chasers in the late season should check out areas around fields and food plots. Toms will still be searching for an available hen or two mingling around. The gobbler will use the open areas to strut around to draw the attention of the hen. Mid-morning hours may find turkeys feeding along wood line edges or open pastures.
In the Talladega National Forest and Wildlife Management Areas, some roads are gated off and closed to vehicle traffic. But a turkey hunter willing to do a little extra walking can get back into areas other hunters haven’t been willing to go. This may take a little extra time but can be worth the effort to bag a bird.
Late season also suggests a change in calling tactics and methods for tight lipped birds. Sometimes a different sounding call or a totally different call can bring a turkey into shotgun range. Remember, a lot of gobblers have been educated on various calls from hunters in recent weeks. Something a little out of the ordinary may do the trick.
Some hunters use a diaphragm and a slate call at the same time. The calling should sound like two different turkeys in the area.
Try using a different type of call other hunters may have been avoiding. Slate and glass type calls produce different sounds and frequencies that an old Tom may not have heard before. Aluminum and other metal calls are gaining popularity for the distinctive sounds.
Another variation of using two types of calls is two different hunters. Turkey hunting buddies can team up on a tough bird by vocalizing various turkey sounds. The duo can pair up and sit close be each other with each trying different calls.
Double talk to turkeys with a partner. For example, one hunter uses diaphragm call and the other scratches out calls on a slate. Hunters can face in opposite directions since the gobbler can come from anywhere. Sitting back-to-back is a safe approach.
“During midday hours a gobbler will take his time coming in,” Phillips said. “he could take an hour to cover only a hundred yards.”
Old gobblers have gotten wise and will sometimes circle around the yelping hen (the hunter) to try and get a look at her from the back door. A single hunter will have a difficult time attempting to turn to get in position for a shot before the keen eyed bird picks up the movement. A pair of hunters sitting together can easily put the hammer down on a bird sneaking in from behind.
By now many Tom turkeys have gobbled out and may not sound off in the early morning hours. But, the bird is still around and may be willing to check out another girlfriend new to the area. Late in the season some hens have begun to nest and have no interest in the gobbler cruising the area.
“If I know a gobbler is in the area and doesn’t gobble, I will call softly at first,” Philips said. “He could be close by and a loud call will spook him.”
Another trick Phillips has used for a tough gobbler when he is with some hens is to call to the group of hens. Try to call the hens to your position and let them go by. Sometimes the old Tom will follow the hens right in front of your shotgun.
Dupe’em with decoys
There is still some debate on the effectiveness of using turkey decoys. It has only been a few years since decoys were permitted for spring season hunting in Alabama. Some turkey hunters swear by their decoys. A wary old gobbler just might come in a little closer to investigate the new “girl” on the block.
One to three decoys at a time is generally the rule. A couple of fake hens and a jake should be enough to get a response out of a gobbler. One key to setting up decoys is to place them where the gobbler can see them in a normal travel area for turkeys. Also, the hunter’s setup should be where the gobbler is focusing on the decoys and looking away from the hunter’s direction.
Several companies manufacture very realistic looking decoys. Don’t be surprised if a gobbler attacks your decoy before you can get off a shot. Some gobblers can be aggressive if they think a stranger is invading their area.
All of these turkey hunters agree that soft or low volume calls will have more benefits than loud calling during the late season. Also, late season turkey chasers should limit the amount of calling they do to be successful. In the case of wary gobblers, more is not necessarily better.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com