Think of spring turkey season as a baseball line-up. By the late innings, the top of the order has scored, while the bottom of the order has struck out and feels pretty discouraged. You are in the heart of the batting order, the hens are nesting, and every call you make is like a fastball in the middle of the plate. The game has changed in the late season, but you still can score by making these adjustments.
Re-Scout your Hunting Area
As insects begin to multiply, turkeys will increasingly feed in fields. Since most hens should be on their nests, you will likely see multiple gobblers. Once you learn where turkeys are feeding and on what, you can set up and wait them out. Set up a blind or just sit comfortably in the grown vegetation. Either way, let the turkeys come to you.
Adjust Your Calling
By now, turkeys have heard about every call out there and can be alarmed by a loud series of yelps. Clucks and purrs are best at this time of year and if you can prompt a tom to gobbler, it will likely approach, especially if it’s a location it knows well. Switch your diaphragm calls and consider using an alternate striker for slate calls. Greg Wilson scored on the last day of the Kentucky season by using a Hempwood Call made by Gene Dunn of Murray, KY.
What? no 4:00am alarm? Turkeys aren’t deer and move throughout the day so it’s not like they are in their bedding area. Gobblers will have a core area they will navigate while looking for hens. In the late season, this also includes feeding so you can look for fresh scratchings in leaves. Gobbler droppings are large and shaped like the letter, “J”. If you find a few of these calling cards, you have a prime location to ambush an old tom.
Despite the late season, your best bet of bagging a gobbler with a bow is by ambush. Just like becoming call-shy, gobblers may be decoy-shy as well, so change your usual set-up. A gobbler with a natural fan is a tremendous draw, just use extra caution where you place it. Make sure a hunter cannot sneak within range of you and fire at the decoy. Since vegetation is higher than in the early season, station your hen decoy in weeds where it looks natural.
Use a Natural Ambush
The late season sounds different. Birds aren’t singing to mate but raising their chicks and don’t have time to sing. Gobblers may fly down without a single ovation and vegetation will be much higher and in full foliage. Pack a comfortable padded seat, and tasty snacks, and prepare to wait out your bird. You can call occasionally. Remember if it gobbles first, it’s looking for hens and it will have your exact location. This is the time to be patient and wait for that perfect shot.
Prep for Bugs
Finally, 2023 has been a record year for bugs and pollen. If you have allergies, don’t hesitate to wear a mask as with COVID. You can cover the blue color with a head net which also helps to filter out pollen. Spray your boots and pants with permethrin, a chemical that will repel and kill ticks. Use products with deet for mosquitoes and gnats and you can spray your hat so that you don’t have to put chemicals on your skin. Bugs are a complication of late season, yet one easily overcome. The late season is warmer, leafier, and quieter. Change your tactics to match late-season conditions and you can still bag that turkey dinner.
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