Midday gobblers can provide a completely different style of hunt. These birds have moved away from the roost and shifted their focus to feeding, presenting a worthy challenge. With the afternoon ahead and the hens returning to the nest, you can find yourself a lonely tom ready to come to your call!
First and foremost, check the regulations and legal shooting hours. It is illegal to harvest an afternoon bird in some states. Once this obstacle is cleared, start evaluating terrain and weather to decide on strategy.
Sit and Wait or Sneak in Late?
It’s hard to beat watching the sun slowly rising through the trees. The air is crisp and charged as your anticipation rises and the woods slowly wake around you. Sitting expectantly as the hours pass by, one might be tempted to dream of the warm bed left behind. But now is not the time to give up! Now is the time to hunker down, change your calls and harvest an afternoon bird.
Weather can play a large part in where and how the birds will group. Pay attention to this and move when necessary. On a warm, sunny day, reposition near shady areas in the trees where they go to escape the heat. In rainy and colder conditions, turkeys tend to bunch up in large open areas, like fields.
Want to skip the early wakeup call altogether? Sneaking in quietly late morning or early afternoon can still be a successful option. Know where the roost is for a point of reference. Find a trail between the roost and feeding grounds to cut them off as they come and go to feed. This is a good place to reposition or to target when walking in mid-afternoon.
Never underestimate the value of scouting. For either style, pinpoint common feeding areas where the birds will spend time in the afternoon. Whether a starting point or a backup plan, this knowledge is vital to your afternoon success.
Midday Call Tactics
Utilizing different calls is the key to capturing an afternoon bird’s attention. Here is where it pays to be patient! Calls should be made less often, with long periods of silence in between. Think 10-20 minutes. Many times, these birds will slip in completely undetected without ever answering a call. It is extremely important to remain still and quiet between those calls to avoid bumping a bird. If a tom does call back, work him in just as you would in a morning hunt.
Try soft yelps with clucks and purrs. As evening approaches, louder cuts and yelps can be introduced as the birds try to relocate before heading in for the night. Hunters positioned near the roost will want to give the birds enough room to prevent them from spooking as they come in.
Afternoon hunts present a worthy challenge for even a seasoned hunter. With a little adjustment to your calls and a lot of patience, you can be very successful in harvesting a midday bird.