Closing Time -How to Call Reluctant Spring Gobblers

There is an old-fabled story of a gobbler just 80 yards away that wouldn’t budge, walking away gobbling as if it were taunting the hunter. Unfortunately, I’m sure a lot of turkey hunters know this story to all too well; we have all left the woods talking to ourselves after such an encounter, and here are some tips to help seal the deal on those reluctant spring gobblers.

Create a Game Plan

The beginning of a successful hunt starts several weeks before Turkey season ever opens. You have to be out there scouting and compiling valuable MRI (Most Recent Information) as to where you are seeing turkeys through the entire day when scouting. Try to get out in the morning and listen for Gobblers sounding off of the roost also, with your binoculars or spotting scope, scout the fields where they gather. If you are hunting the big hard woods, you should walk the hardwood ridges looking for the beech and oak trees they love to roost in. This is where you will find turkey scratchings, feathers dust bowls and droppings. These are prime off the roost hunt locations and mid-day areas to try an entice a gobbler to investigate some light calling on and off. Try to find where the turkeys are entering and leaving a field in the morning and again in the late afternoon. The most important day of scouting should be the day before your hunt.

Calling is one of the keys to success when spring turkey hunting. If you have done your scouting and planning and know where the turkeys spent the night and how they will use the property in the morning, get in there in the dark and set up around 100 yards away being careful not to bump any birds off of the roost. Normally begin with a few soft tree yelps and a few purrs to let the tom know there is a hen on the roost. When he answers you do not call again while he is on the roost. He knows where you are. Once he flies down try and mimic how his hens call. Soft, aggressive or sometimes no calling at all is the key for him to come investigating. When a tom approaches the place he thinks he heard a hen call from, he fully expects to see her there, and looks for signs of responsiveness. If he doesn’t see the hen, he hangs up waiting for her to show herself. (Keep in mind you are trying to reverse how nature works). Keep the Gobbler interested and approaching by choosing your set-up carefully. Use wrinkles in the terrain to find a spot he can’t see until he’s within your shooting range. If you set up poorly and he hangs up in sight, quit calling, let him walk and try again from a better location.

The best advice I would give to a hunter having a tough time with an old or stubborn reluctant spring gobbler is to call soft seldom and be very patient. Sometimes you’ve got to just hang in there and sit and watch, and just scratch the leaves or soft purr every 10 to 20 minutes. And wait an entire morning for that tom to revisit your set up. Even then, the gobbler may choose not do what you want him to do. Put in the time, watch, wait, learn that bird. Slip out and come back that afternoon, or the next morning. With turkeys it’s often a tight chess match, and you’ve got to make all the right moves slowly, patiently and perfectly, or you’re not going to take down that ol’ long beard. And that really is what makes Spring Turkey Hunting so special. It’s never easy. When success is met in the spring woods it becomes a ritual to be cherished.

Call Like a Turkey

  • Use soft clucking sounds. A cluck is a turkey’s way of getting another turkey’s attention. Hens cluck to let a tom know they’re waiting for him.
  • Purring is a soft and contented sound that hens make when all is well with their world.
  • Do not make turkey putt sounds. A turkey putt is an alarm call, consisting of several quick notes. It signals danger to the other birds.
  • A hen’s yelp means just about the same thing, but it can have other meanings during the breeding season.
  •  Cutting is a sign that turkeys are excited, not alarmed. Loud, sharp clucks that are often mixed with yelping. Cutting has several uses in hunting. If a gobbler is henned up, and one of the hens is cutting, you can cut back in an attempt to bring her to you with gobblers in tow.

The predictable patterns that turkeys stick to just prior to opening day are a far better indicator of what they will likely be doing opening morning compared to your scouting trip a month or so ago. When you can begin to piece together your scouting information from various trips and mimic what his hens sound like in the area, then you will be on you way to becoming a Turkey Closer in the Spring Turkey Woods.

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Anticipating a Gobblers First Move | Turkey Hunting Tips

The most important aspect of turkey hunting is to have a place to hunt and birds to chase. First, check with your local private landowners because this is a good place to begin scouting gobblers and getting ready for opening day. These turkeys are usually less educated than those on public land. If you can’t find private land, you should contact your local Wildlife and Fisheries. They can advise you about public lands that can offer some good turkey hunting.

Take time to scout these areas you plan to hunt by circuit-riding or long-range observation, while also looking for feathers, scratchings, J-hook (gobbler) droppings, and other signs of turkey presence. When the season is creeping close, look for roost sites. Sometimes a breeding flock of turkeys will use from 3 to 5 different sites but really favor 2 for the most part. One way to find a roost site is to circuit-ride roads in your hunting areas and stop here and there to use a locator call or just listening. Roosted birds will often gobble in reply and reveal their presence 30 minutes before sunset. You can also walk your favorite spots from a distance, and at dusk and after dark, listen for the flap of heavy-wing beats. If you are lucky, a gobbler will give up his location by sounding off. Pinpoint a roost and your chances of taking a gobbler go up astronomically.

If there are fields in your hunting area, you should observe them by sitting along the edge of the woods, being very still, camouflaged, and scoping the field with good optics.

Roost Advantage

When turkey hunting in the morning set up as tight as you can on a roosted gobbler, getting as tight as the terrain will allow, and anticipate where he will likely pitch out. Being in the right spot can make for a flash hunt. Knowing these areas they prefer to visit first will take some scouting and butt whoopings. Most times you will either hear or see the gobbler fly down from the roost. If he does not gobble shortly after fly down, get ready because he is more than likely heading to your position. There are more hen turkeys than ever in the early part of the season and thus more hen competition. Get tight, call hard and aggressive if he is responding, and try to kill him early before his harem of hens get to him and lead him away. Roosting and finding the right set up the night before will make this possible.

Many hunters believe that calling is the most important aspect of turkey hunting. In my opinion, it isn’t. If you have ever been in the “turkey woods”, you have heard some of the worst turkey sounds being made by real wild turkey hens.

Think Like A Turkey

You have to think what the turkey’s thinking. You have to try to get inside that turkey’s head and think to yourself, “What is he thinking right now? What does he think is going on and why should he come to me?” It’s a chess match every time you’re out there chasing a big gobbler. Every single gobbler is different, and every gobbler will usually do something different each morning, making each chess match unforgettable.