Hunting Afternoon Turkeys
Nothing can compare to the sound of turkeys gobbling at dawn. The anticipation of when and where they will fly down and listening to the forest awaken around you is an experience that can be described as being surreal. Not every morning is a success though and who wants to stop hunting when the morning is over?
Many hunters don’t like to hunt turkeys in the afternoon because they feel that their success ratio is better in the morning. I agree with that thought process, however we also realize that the turkeys are often up feeding and making their way back to their roosting spot in the late afternoon.
Our family has killed many birds in the afternoon including the one Karin killed in the photo, and it just happened to be an evening hunt. Here are a couple tips I have learned that will help your afternoon hunts.
1. Know the land (Feeding/Strutting and Roosting areas)
It’s imperative to know the land whenever and wherever you hunt anything, but afternoon turkey hunts make it an even more critical piece of the puzzle.
With that being said, here is what I am referring to. Knowing where your birds are roosting and where they typically spend their days can lead you to travel routes and corridors, which can lead you to places where you can set up to get a shot.
In western states this can be easily figured out because roost trees are hard to come by and it’s not uncommon to see dozens of birds roosted in one tree along a fence line or field edge. This is obviously with the exception of areas like “National Forests” but for the rest of the country finding an exact tree can be more difficult.
However, finding a general area is usually possible with a bit of pre-hunt scouting. During my scouting trips I am looking for droppings, feathers, roosting areas and feeding areas.
Keep in mind on sunny days turkeys prefer to scratch around in the hardwoods often times spending all day never leaving the timber.
On rainy days, turkeys will often be found in fields, looking for worms and other insects that have been uncovered by the rain. These rainy days can be great days for scouting by simply driving dirt roads in your area and glassing turkeys from the truck. (Caution: don’t blow calls at them just to hear them gobble or for any other reason, this is just educating turkeys).
Now, on either day the birds will start their day by flying down into their favorite strutting area and spending the first few hours strutting and breeding, but the afternoons are most often quite different with the birds not returning to this area until just before dark to fly back into the roost trees.
So, for us the key to killing afternoon turkeys is finding the feeding areas where they will spend a couple hours before heading back to the roost.
Knowing what fields your turkeys will head to before dark or where they will be heading to fly back up for the night, might be more key than the best decoy or call, because if you find that feeding area you will find turkeys doing turkey things long before dark.
One last tip on location is once you find the right field or area they are feeding in during the afternoon hours, is key in on the west side of the field or anywhere that gets shaded a few hours before dark. This is where big toms like to strut around along the edge while the hens grab dinner. The hotter it gets the more important the shade becomes in picking your set up spot, on overcast or rainy days anywhere in the field can be the right set up.
2.Change your Calling for the afternoons
Use locator calls more in the afternoon. Don’t get me wrong we use locator calls throughout the day, but they become even more important in the afternoon when you don’t know exactly where you want to set up. The reason they are so important is by using a crow or owl call you can keep from setting up like a mad man after you blew the perfect cutting sequence only to get a gobble closer than expected. Had you used a crow call and got the same response you wouldn’t have to worry about the gobbler headed your way and catching you before you’re ready. Therefore, remember that a locator call can help find birds without giving away your position.
Some of David’s favorite calls : https://woodhavencustomcalls.com/shop/the-cherry-real-hen/
For more information on hunting turkeys visit Raised Outdoors
When it comes to making the sexy sounds of seductive hen, afternoons need a little more thought. This one might be the most important tip but if your like me it’s also the most difficult. That is limit your calling. Typically turkeys aren’t as vocal in the afternoons as they are in the mornings, and over calling and pressuring the birds to respond can cause them to not respond or even work away without you ever knowing they were around. So I do most afternoons is limit my calling meaning I often never make any sounds until I hear or see turkeys first. This way I know that are up and somewhat receptive to my calling. The other is when I feel like I need to call I tone it down and call less often lot’s of times only yelping a few times every 30 minutes or longer. If they are around they usually will let you know and then you can start responding to them and increase the intensity as they dictate.