I’m embarrassed to say, but the turkeys were hard on me this past weekend. It’s getting a bit late in the season and toms have been called to, chased and outright put on wanted posters. That equals a savvy bird with no intentions of becoming ingredient number one for a weekend grilling session.
Tough toms can be taken, but it requires a change of strategy. You should still employ tradition, but if tradition begins to stink like last week’s garbage, then toss it like you would the trash.
Here are five strategies to put a tom in your turkey vest in the closing days of the season.
1: Call Softly
You should always start out any calling regiment with soft calls. First, you don’t always know how close a gobbler might be hiding, and second, you don’t know its mood. Soft, subtle calls in thick cover can create curiosity that turns any tom into a tomcat. You know the old saying, curiosity kills the cat. It can do the same for a curious tom.
2: Ambush The Roost
You’ll have to get up early, but if you know the exact location of a roost and the associated landing zone of the birds, be there an hour before shooting light. Sneak in under the cover of darkness and wait for the bird to come to you. Soft calling can help, but if you’ve done your research you won’t need to make a peep.
3: Hunt Midmorning
In the late season, hens slowly slip away from toms as the hours slip by. From midmorning through the midday, many toms find themselves alone. This is a great time to call in a lonely gobbler looking for love.
4: Start A Fight
Fighting calls can turn even the most secretive of gobblers into loudmouths. Use cuts, frantic yelps, purrs and cackles to make it sound as if there is a fight over a hen. You might just have a bird run you over.
5: Get In The Way
That’s how my son Cole tipped over a turkey this past weekend. We saw the flock walking along an edge, moving our way in no apparent hurry. We slipped into position undetected and put a decoy out in front. Soft calls are all it took for one of the toms to break from the flock and continue on its original track.
Unfortunately for the tom, it ran smack into a Hornady Heavy Magnum Turkey load of No. 5s. Cole’s waterfowl shotgun was turned into a turkey shotgun with the innovative Hornady Versatite wad. No turkey choke is required and dense pattern is the result with a modified choke.
You do, however, need a grill to enjoy the savory reward later.