You’ve waited all day to bag a gobbler, so when opening day comes around, you’re geared up to go. Ideally, you’ll call in a big longbeard opening morning and tag it by lunch. Or, at least that’s the best situation you can think of.
But, we all know being successful during turkey season requires more than hopeful wishing. Sometimes a hunter can wait all season to get a turkey. To help hunters who haven’t tagged out early in the season, we’ve come up with a list of late season turkey hunting tips.
1. Why Early and Late Turkey Hunting are Different?
Early and late turkey hunting is different for many reasons. One is that going into late-season without bagging a bird yet plays with your head. That and the physical aspect of getting up, hitting the woods, and still coming home with nothing is physically exhausting. Self-doubt is something hunters have to deal with as the late season creeps up on them. To prevent you from loathing turkey season, we’ve come up with tips for late turkey season hunting.
Late Season Turkey Hunting Tips
2. Be Okay with Being Patient
Turkey hunting requires patience. When your season goes into overtime, it requires even more patience. You might be tempted to stomp into the woods and shoot the first turkey you see, but you have to remain patient, especially if you’re late in the season. Make the birds come to you; don’t let the birds dictate how you hunt.
3. Take it Easy with the Turkey Calls
Late in the season, you’ll want to take it easy with the turkey calls. Calling too much, loud, or often is enough to spook all the turkeys right out of the trees. Not convinced? Consider this. If a turkey is still thriving in the woods late in the season, it means they’ve heard the calls before.
Either they aren’t interested or they’re hip to your game. It doesn’t really matter what the reason is; it just means calls aren’t going to be very effective. If you overuse the call, the turkey is going to know you are desperate, which means he’s going to make you chase it. So, lay off the call and concentrate on your other hunting skills to nail the bird.
If you can’t resist the urge to use a turkey call be smart about the type of calls you use. For instance, only use calls you didn’t use earlier in the season. It’s also important to only call softly and when you feel like it’s absolutely necessary.
4. Use the Right Gun
When the season is almost over and your tag is about to expire, there’s no time for experiments. Reach for the sure thing when you’re choosing a weapon. A 3-inch 12-gauge is usually perfect. But, if you have access to a 10-gauge that’s even better.
5. Hunt Later in the Day
Hunters stalk the woods in the wee hours of the morning as soon as opening day commences. By late in the season, any turkey that is left has experienced the early morning intrusion. Chances are if the bird is smart enough to still be around late in the season, they’ve figured out to stay still in the early am when the woods are full of hunters. So, take advantage of the situation. Sleep in and head to the woods later in the day.
6. Stop Looking for Trophy Turkeys
If you’re still stomping around the woods turkey-less in the late season chances are you’ve been pretty picky. That’s fine if you can accept the season ending and you haven’t added a turkey to the freezer. However, if you want to add a bird to the freezer, you need to stop being so picky. Late in the season, turkey hunters have to take what they see and forget about collecting trophy turkeys.
7. Focus on Fields
If you’ve done your homework, you’ve spent a ton of time in the woods. But, it just might not work out for you. Instead, it’s time to focus on the fields. Stick to the fields around the woods you’ve been hunting. You likely know exactly where the turkeys enter and exit the fields, so keep your eyes peeled. If you’re really eager to get a turkey consider setting up a blind near one of the fields we discussed above.
8. Get in the Woods
Now that we’ve covered all the basics, it’s time to talk about the biggest aspect of bagging a bird late-season – you’ve got to get out in the woods. The essential point is if you don’t get out in the woods, you can’t get a kill. Be persistent get out there on a regular basis. Get a feel for the lay of the land and keep repeating the pattern until you’ve got exactly what you wanted.
9. Look for Clues of Turkey in the Woods
Late in the season turkeys will enter the woods quietly. Everyone knows turkeys make a heck of racket when they’re roosting or coming out of a tree, but when they’re simply entering by foot, they’re rather quiet.
If you really want to catch a turkey off-guard, you need to listen for hints that they entered the woods. Listen for leaf rubbing, sticks braking, wings flapping, or any other sign that a turkey is wandering around you. If you see a turkey, but don’t quite have a shot you need to make it worth it, remember to be patient.
It’s hard to be patient when you see exactly what you want within reach, but don’t let your eagerness to kill a turkey takeover. Instead, work on teasing the tom or hen. Stick with what you know and keep your eyes peeled for the moment you’ve been waiting for.
There you have it some of the best tips to hunt turkeys in late season. Keep your wits about you and apply the tips discussed here and you’ll be ready to stock the freezer with a good bird before you know it. If you don't get a turkey this year, you can always come back next year, but hunting smart will help you get the right bird this year.