No matter if you hunt from a blind or natural hide, afternoon turkey hunting can be highly productive. A few simple strategies will help fill your tag quickly.
Focus on hunting feeding and travel areas rather than roosting sites as evening progresses and gobblers put breeding on hold.
Evening turkey hunting requires a distinct approach from dawn hunts. Instead of focusing on strut zones, afternoon hunters look for feeding areas that attract gobblers later in the day – often farm fields full of corn or soybeans harvested recently or leftover crops from last fall’s acorn crop are ideal spots. As time goes on, greening clover and alfalfa fields become magnets to birds drawn both to their fresh vegetation as well as all its associated bugs.
Afternoon hunters should recognize that late gobblers aren’t your typical run-of-the-mill birds; these late birds have likely already been called upon by numerous hunters, and will approach your calls with caution. Successful late day hunters know to remain patient, understanding that a simple yelp or soft cluck may turn around an unsettled tom into an opportunity.
Spotting and maneuvering ahead of a turkey flock can be an effective technique in open country, where male birds may detect your movements more readily than usual. Locate a travel route near a roost, using terrain to sneak past them as you set up in an area that will keep your activities hidden from sight.
When hunting gobblers during the afternoon hours, focus your efforts in shady loafing and dusting areas. These locations provide relief from the midday sun while simultaneously helping you identify and call to hens or single gobblers that may be nearby.
As soon as the sun begins to set in the west, shift your search towards field edges and feeder locations as turkeys seek food before returning to roost for the night. Now may be your opportunity to capture that gobbler that still wants food or gather up several female turkeys for their evening fly-up; be sure to stay hidden as these late-day turkeys will have an acute sense of direction!
Afternoon turkey hunting presents its own set of unique challenges. While you might not see as much drama during an afternoon hunt, planning ahead and doing your homework may provide the chance for real success at gobbling up gobblers.
Afternoon turkeys typically have already bred and are feeding quietly or heading back into their nests to lay eggs, becoming more relaxed and willing to investigate new sounds and calls that wouldn’t get their attention during the morning hours. This makes intercepting them as they leave roosts easier, though keep in mind they might still be wary.
One mistake many turkey hunters make is disrupting roosts early in the morning, forcing the birds to find new places to rest come evening time. Once busted at their roost, turkeys tend to find refuge under forest canopy or move hunting activities into fields and open clearings – so it is best to hunt in open areas with good ground cover such as fields or thick swales.
Utilizing a blind or natural hide in the late afternoon and evening is key for success in turkey hunting. A blind will enable you to conceal your movements, while masks or face paint may help blend in better with the surroundings. Furthermore, avoid moving too frequently through the woods as turkeys will quickly detect your presence and become suspicious of you.
Topography knowledge can also be crucial when hunting in unfamiliar terrain. Be on the lookout for features like draws, swales and ridges which could act like funnels to funnel game in. Abrupt changes in terrain may also act as wind breaks to calm air pressure and improve hunting conditions. If hunting without blinds is your preferred strategy, set up on an elevated platform in order to take advantage of wind breaks; and don’t forget your camouflage hat or vest along with layers and moisture-wicking clothes while in the field!
Turkeys gobble throughout the day but don’t respond as readily to callers in the afternoon. That doesn’t mean they aren’t listening; rather, it means they must hear your calls sooner to respond appropriately.
If you haven’t done your pre-dawn recon yet for afternoon hunting, set aside several hours before dawn to do so. Scout out areas where you can hunker low in woodlots or fields and watch for turkeys as they pass by. Look out for spots where turkeys congregate near travel routes or feeding zones in shaded areas as a refuge from midday sun – creek banks, flat clearings or dense wooded expanses often become popular spots where birds congregate to escape it all!
Once you locate a turkey’s roost tree, begin walking in the direction that the bird may move. Try setting up within half-mile or less from it if possible; avoid disturbing its contents as that could send it elsewhere instead of towards you!
Once the temperature begins to dip, gobblers begin moving their hens from place to place in anticipation of returning home for the evening. Listen closely for any signs he is heading your way; if he does come close enough for you to hear, move quickly to block his path and block off his passageway.
Soft, hen calls can often bring gobblers into range. If he doesn’t respond, more aggressive calls like crow and owl may help to attract his attention and lure him closer. When that works, use “turkey small talk” as another strategy.
If the turkey continues to move toward you, keep calling and be ready to strike with either shotgun or bow if it moves towards you. When using either approach, be certain you can make an accurate shot, otherwise demoralizing and turning away birds may occur; an unresponsive tom may never return; one who responds positively can often come back again!
Wild turkey hunters envision their ideal turkey hunt as setting up near a roosted bird at daybreak and making seductive calls that attract a gobbler, complete with his signature strutting, drumming and gobbling calls, into gun range. Unfortunately, most turkey hunts end without success leaving hunters disappointed and disappointed by yet another frustrating morning in the woods.
Evening turkey hunting can be just as productive and thrilling, yet requires a different strategy from morning turkey hunting. Understanding turkey behavior and adapting your calling routine are the keys to successful evening hunting.
Primarily, turkeys tend not to be as vocal in the evening than at dawn, making spotting turkeys more challenging. When possible, try tracking travel routes and natural funnels between staging areas and roost sites rather than simply hunting roost sites directly.
As it’s important to remember, turkeys tend to move about quite frequently during the afternoon hours; it is not unusual for them to leave their roosting area and head toward other spots throughout the day before returning eventually – adding an unpredictable element into their presence and presence can mean you should always be ready for unexpected situations!
One of the most frustrating experiences on a turkey hunt can be calling too early, only to be outwitted by a bird you never expected to appear. To prevent this from happening, use an owl or crow call as a locator call to determine whether there are turkeys present – these calls have proven themselves highly effective at drawing responses from turkeys that help pinpoint their location.
Adjusting to turkey hunting during the afternoon can be challenging for some hunters, but it’s important to remember that these birds behave differently from when hunting dawn and midday. By following a few basic rules (locating roosting locations, setting up in an ambush spot, listening for screamed hens and moving as needed), you can have yourself an effective afternoon hunt.