Not Bagging Your Turkey Limit? Maybe You Need to Sleep Later!

Outsmarting a Clever Adversary


Beautiful in their Serenity!


There are a number of considerations when hunting these beautiful quarry. Obviously, hunting turkey on a lease is preferable to open hunting. Knowing the numbers and locations of other hunters makes for a safer environment. However, we don’t always have that choice.

One of the most common causes of accidental shootings occurs when a hunter is stalking turkeys.  Another hunter just might be waiting for the turkeys the first hunter is stalking and shoot the unfortunate hunter by mistake. This makes for a very bad day for both hunters!

The Time of Day Can Affect Hunting Wild Turkeys

How does the time of day affect hunting turkeys? Actually, there’s a science to outsmarting young and not-so-young toms. Most hunting experts suggest getting a thorough knowledge of the land where you plan to hunt.

In the spring, toms don’t venture far from the roost areas. Early afternoon seems to be a better time to catch a turkey unawares. Why? Because he tends to be alone.

Early mornings, turkeys tend to feed and wander in flocks. However, toms are less likely to be accompanied “by the girls” in the early afternoon.  And while the girls are on their nests, ‘What’s the harm in chatting up some ‘cute young thing?’ muses a strutting tom.

Without his harem to stroke his ego, he’s at his most vulnerable. At this point, seasoned hunters often start the slow, patient game of ‘come-and-get-it” with their turkey calls. If you can get a turkey to gobble to you a couple of times, he’s interested, but wary. After three or four calls, you can be sure that he’s lowered his reserve and is heading towards you.

Knowing the Lay of the Land

Knowing the lay of the land is important for another reason. If you know that the toms have been hunted in the morning, it will take more time to get them to show. This is where patience is necessary for success.

Some hunters change to varmint, owl or crow calls in the afternoon. Many seasoned hunters, however, tend to stay with the turkey sounds, varying the sound with loud yelps and cuts. When the tom responds, let him set the tone. Respond aggressively with aggression and softly with cautious calls.

Plan B

If this doesn’t work, go to Plan B. Since you know the land and have studied the trails of the big birds, this may be the time to return to the place where the turkey herd gathered in the morning hours. Look for burns and clearcuts near those gathering spots. Find a nice, comfortable spot and start to softly call.

Remember, these jakes don’t have a baseball game they want to see, so they have lots of time. Hunters are more likely to show their position by swatting flies and repositioning for a more comfortable spot. The hunted are often more patient than the hunters – which means they live to be hunted another day.

Using the same land year after year, helps the hunter learn the habits of his quarry. Toms fall into habits and, in the spring, they return to last year’s trails and roosts.

Early Morning Hunters

Most hunters go after game when they can. Many hunters, living close to their lease or public lands, hunt before going to work. Therefore, they are on their way to work by 7:30 am. By letting the animals have a couple of hours of quiet time, 10 to 11 am is a great time to try these techniques. Prime hunting time tends to be between 10 am and 3 pm. Many seasoned hunters enthuse that they “never” go on a daybreak hunt anymore.

A Different Plan for Later Hunts

Seeking a sharp-eyed jake around 4 pm calls for a different plan. Toms are seeking hens and the presence of females controls the action. Unsuccessful jakes are vulnerable at this time and may respond to calls. Aggression doesn’t work here; soft, insistent calls are more attractive. It’s like 1:45 am at a bar, the tom may not be too excited by his choices, but he wants some other feathers next to his for the night.

Lots of young hunters make the mistake of canceling a hunt because of early morning foul weather. By noon, when the sun is high and bright, they realize their mistake. Toms are able to preen and strut in the sunshine, pursuing hens without those pesky hunters.

If you haven’t been successful in an early morning hunt in the past, you just might want to try a mid-day hunt this year!

© 2008 Marylouise of


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Published in: on September 10, 2008 at 1:51 pm  Comments Off on Not Bagging Your Turkey Limit? Maybe You Need to Sleep Later!  
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