Friday, February 12, 2010



By: Greg Kuper

Hunting turkeys in the spring has different challenges than in the fall. It’s not better or worse, just different. The turkey hunting season in Wisconsin is April 10-May 23 this year. The following suggestions are geared for spring hunting, but a lot of the same tactics can be used in the fall, as well:

  1. Setting up decoys is important to do right. If you do it wrong, a tom might stop at a distance to wait for the hen to come to him. Place yourself right in-between the turkey you’re calling and a fake hen decoy. To do that, stake it about 20 yards past where you are calling from. That way, if he stops to wait for the hen to come to him, you will be very close, and be able to get off a good, clean shot.

  2. Decoys work the best in open areas such as food pots, open fields or clearings, logging roads or under electric wire clearings. That way, the turkeys can see them clearly from a distance. If the turkeys aren’t responding to your calls, just set up the decoys and wait. It is important to set up three decoys, two hens and a jake. The best to use are Carry Lite, they are foam and easy to carry. These decoys will spin around in the wind and catch a turkey’s eye. The reason you want two hens and a jake is because an older tom will see this and think the jake is moving in on his territory (the hens) and run in to attack him.

  3. Putting a gobbler to bed is an old but effective trick. It is almost a guarantee to get a turkey. To do this, you go into the woods at dusk and listen for turkeys gobbling. Even if they don’t gobble or make any other noise, you may be able to hear their heavy wings flap. Now that you know where they are roosting, you know exactly where to go the next morning. To make it work, you absolutely have to be in position before it gets light and set up around a 100 yards away or so (Make it a good spot-good cover). Then, you wait for a tom to roar and then give him your best call. BUT remember one important thing…you very well may set up in the wrong spot. In other words, where you are may not be where the tom will go once he is down on the ground. There are no guarantees, but this is a pretty good odds trick. At the very least, it won’t hurt anything to try.

  4. Hunting times are hard to gauge. Mid-mornings are the hot times to hunt for turkey. The biggest reason is because other hunters will usually go in after nine, or they have to go to work. Great! Better for you when there are less guys out there. The best reason is because spooked turkeys from bad calling hunters have settled down and you can move in. Also, different weather conditions can affect when and if turkeys are active and so can a million other different factors. Usually, the woods are quiet for about two hours after daybreak. This is because the turkeys are busy breeding, or trying to breed. Oh, they will strut around, but they won’t gobble much if at all. Then, the hens will go to lay their eggs. This isn’t exact, but it is usually around 9ish. In the spring, toms want to be around hens at all times, so when the hens are gone, toms are looking for new hens to court and their search begins almost immediately. The younger guys gobble their heads off in the attempt to attract a new hen, but the older guys will strut and drum very intensely. Use this to your advantage. This need for a hen’s company makes them easy to call in.

    This is a good time (9 a.m.) to walk on some foot trails, logging roads, clearings, etc. and make a few calls. Once the woods calm down, turkeys get back into their normal routine. In the spring, turkeys are all wound up and you may be able to solicit a shock call at the very least. If a turkey answers a crow call, that is a good time to set up and let out some soft hen calls. It is a good idea to tone down the calls late in the season. Less frequent, softer cutts and yelps are more effective.

    There is some great action in the afternoon. The peak is from about 2 to 4 p.m., but from noon to dusk (roosting time), toms have been all but deserted by hens and will very likely gobble at your hen cuts and locator calls. BUT, don’t expect turkeys to gobble as much in the afternoon as they do in the morning. You may get one gobble, two at most, so you have to make your call and listen for even the faintest return call. Be ready, they will move towards your call quickly and quietly during this time of day. After you get an idea of where they are, move in and listen for other sounds, like a turkey walking in the leaves. Late in the day, right before dusk, a tom may run over to check out a hen call before he flies up to roost. Get ‘em.

    Good hunting.


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