By knowing where turkeys roost and where they head off first thing in the morning, it becomes much easier to devise a strategy to intercept them later on during hunting season. That strategy could involve hunting along their travel routes or preferred food sources.
Breakneck topography such as draws, gullies, swales and ridges can draw birds into your location for an evening hunt.
Find the Birds
Hunting turkeys in the evening requires finding an optimal location prior to dusk. As gobblers tend to become less vocal as nightfall approaches, doing some pre-hunt scouting will pay dividends. Scout your hunting area a few hours prior to dusk to determine where turkeys have been roosting during the day and when they may be traveling.
If you can successfully track their movements, you can set up for an intercept at the point where they leave their roost or look for travel routes that lead to food sources at night – both approaches require patience but both can be highly effective in certain circumstances.
Once you have discovered where turkeys are roosting, be sure to stay well back from where they will be leaving their roosts. Turkeys can be extremely sensitive creatures that easily panic if something unexpected comes along such as hunters approaching.
Be mindful that gobblers tend to prefer nesting near food sources – in early season this could mean picking corn or soybeans; later in springtime they often prefer greening clover and alfalfa fields as an ideal roost site.
Keep an eye out for watering holes, creeks and rivers where turkeys frequent. After traveling and roosting all day long, these spots will likely provide them with much-needed hydration breaks.
To attract gobblers away from their roosts, the ideal approach is to keep noise levels low and employ natural sounds like those made by crows, coyotes or hawks. Unnatural calls such as clucks or yelps may alarm turkeys even late into the evening so short and sharp noises work best when trying to stimulate responses from roosted toms.
As evening comes around, it’s also essential to look out for visual cues. Watch roosting toms as they fly up from their trees, listening for those that suddenly stop calling just before landing in their trees.
Hunt the Food
Though morning hunting may be your preferred hunting time of day, evening hunts can also prove productive with the right strategy and commitment. By dedicating additional hours and accepting a slower pace during an evening shift hunt you may achieve some lethal results.
Before embarking on an evening hunt, evaluate your hunting area. Your preseason scouting likely revealed several shady areas adjacent to field edges that provide refuge from midday heat for turkeys escaping to shade during midday heat waves; these would make ideal places to start your search, provided the weather permits.
Once in one of these secluded yet accessible areas, calling can begin; less is often more when hunting at night. A general guideline would be calling every 5-10 minutes as any more frequently will quickly alert gobblers of your presence and they may turn their head away to avoid you.
At night turkey hunting, one key to successful pursuit is remaining still and remaining undetectable to your quarry. Turkeys possess keen vision and hearing senses, making it challenging to hide your movements as human prey. To minimize noise and movement while staying still and undetected, use foliage near your setup as cover (either a blind or brush-based decoy can provide this)
Ideally, when hunting with a mated gobbler in the evening, you want to position yourself to intercept him as he leaves his roost on his way back towards the feed area. To do this, locate a trail they and their hens take often, then set up on its edge ideally somewhere with cover to conceal your presence from them.
Be mindful that turkeys become much more active at nighttime and may move throughout the forest searching for food sources. This is especially true if you live in an area during breeding season when toms sounding off their roost are heard sounding off during late afternoon hours. As dusk falls, keep your ears tuned in for any clucking or purring that might appear from within its shadow.
Set Your Decoys
Turkey hunters know it takes an array of gear to enter the woods successfully, from calls and shells to vests with plenty of pockets for storage. Those equipped with quality gear tend to reach turkeys quickly and quietly without risking being noticed or startling them away from their target species.
At dusk when turkeys begin moving towards their roosts, being quiet is of particular importance. Evening gobblers are particularly active at this time of day; searching out potential hens to breed with before returning back home as night falls. Evening turkeys tend to be particularly paranoid at this time and will respond strongly to any calls you attempt during this period.
If you’re hunting turkeys in the evening, setting out decoys in advance can help get you prepared to start calling more quickly and without unwelcome responses from nearby turkeys. Diverting their attention away from yourself towards one or more jake or hen decoys that resemble potential challengers or potential mates can often be more successful at calling in birds than just trying to call directly yourself in.
Based on your terrain, position your decoys so they best mimic the movement of turkeys. This could involve creating brush-free open areas or funneling turkeys towards your hunting area through draws, swales or ridges. Offsetting decoys slightly is also recommended to prevent their accidental detection by birds who often hang-up just yards out of range – this way you’re less likely to get busted!
Successful evening turkey hunting requires knowing when and how to quit calling. Some hunters like to push hard on their approach, reducing distance as much as possible between themselves and gobblers; others take a more conservative approach, waiting until one walks over on its own. Figuring out what makes your target gobbler tick can help determine when it is best to stop calling – it is all about understanding what makes gobblers tick so that when to abandon one approach and wait for one of them to walk in on its own!
Wait It Out
Turkey hunters often overlook the afternoon as an optimal hunting period; that is until birds find refuge from midday heat in secluded spots to pass time during this hour-and-a-half long lull. But this time can yield some of the greatest hunting opportunities if your state permits such hunting activities.
Successful evening turkey hunting requires tracking down and intercepting birds as they move from their roosts towards food sources, with open habitats being best. Corn fields, soybeans in timbered habitat, alfalfa/clover in hayfields or leftover acorns from last fall’s crop are popular hunting locations and should all be available feed sources for these birds.
After you locate a feeding area, set up in cover and wait for turkeys to pass by. Knowing their preferred travel routes and behavior is helpful in getting turkeys close. Also use locator calls like an owl or crow to attract turkeys nearer by using locator calls like these which they appear to respond well too allowing you to pinpoint their exact location or draw them in closer.
If you can’t call them in, scouting the territory and looking for places where ambushing turkeys might work is another effective strategy. This method works especially well in western and prairie states where turkeys roam more freely than they would in forested regions. Once you locate suitable spots, use terrain to sneak ahead of them before ambushing.
Remember that turkeys are highly paranoid creatures with extraordinary eyesight and hearing, making calling too often seem counterproductive and lead to increased caution on their part. If using mechanical calls, use as little noise as possible – the birds should do most of the work for you! Furthermore, be wary of windy conditions as turkeys tend not to make noise during this season – in hot conditions they may slow down considerably and take shelter under areas with shade such as north-facing slopes or expanses of bare ground and timber as possible hangout spots during this season.