Nesting hens leave gobblers lonely

By the last week of May, most turkey hunters have had all they can take, and hung up their calls until next spring. Turkey hunting is a struggle for the most part, and as the season draws to an end, things seem to add up to make it almost unbearable. Most find it hard to get birds late in the season, while some use the hens nesting habits to aid their efforts.

Finally, the hens have begun to set on their nests, gobblers beware. Hens will get up briefly a few times a day to water, feed or breed, but will immediately return to the nest to continue incubating their eggs. During this time period, the gobblers tend to wander less, and favor hanging around nesting hens still in need of their service. I find these lonely, late -season birds to be the easiest to harvest. Older gobblers four to five years of age tend to travel with large groups of hens making it quite a chore to get them during the early weeks of season. While the same bird may charge in, like a group of jakes when abandoned by his hens for the day. I recommend calling less and not as aggressively as most gobblers have heard enough human imitations to become call-shy by now.

I find the roost hunt to be less effective late in the season, probably because the hens have the gobblers occupied at first light. From my observations the hens tend to feed and breed and head back to the nest by eight a.m. This pattern favors what I call the lazy manís hunt. Get up late, head out by eight. I then roam known nesting areas like thick brush lots, hedge rows and grown up abandoned fields. I try my best to approach a known set up location as stealthily as possible. I usually set up my decoys and call for up to an hour. If nothing is heard, I split and head to a new location. I've found if a turkey gobbles to you after nine am. for the rest of the season you will typically either see or shoot the bird. Since hens will set through a rain storm to protect their eggs, rainy days are actually good days to hunt in the spring.

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