Mornings seem to get all the glory when it comes to spring turkey hunting, and for good reason. Toms gobbling on the roost, watching birds fly down and breath-taking sunrises sure make for an exciting experience, even if you don’t harvest a turkey. But there’s a lot of hunting that can be done beyond the first couple hours of the day, and a couple different techniques I use to harvest mid-day gobblers.

Cut ‘Em Off

One hunt that’s fresh in my mind is one from the 2018 season. My good buddy Brad and I setup early one morning to try and double on longbeards. We had 5 toms in the decoys but never got an opportunity where we could both get a clear shot. After they moved on, we knew we needed to get on some fresh birds. We got in the truck and hit the road to scout some fields for feeding turkeys on some properties we already had permission to hunt. It wasn’t long before we came across 3 longbeards that were headed towards a section of hardwoods I knew well. We went around to the other side of the farm where the turkeys looked like they were headed. Once there, we moved through the hardwoods slowly and called periodically to try and get a gobble and an idea of the turkey’s location. When you’re not sure where the birds are, make sure you’re in a good position to get set up fast. You never know where they’ll be and could end up being very close. We soon heard a gobble and quickly got set up on the edge of a field next to the hardwoods where the gobble came from. We then stayed quiet, and it didn’t take long before 2 toms appeared in the field. After a little soft calling the birds slowly worked their way in, and Brad and I put our tags on 2 mature toms. Getting on the road and getting on fresh birds was the key to this hunt. If the morning sit doesn’t pan out, hit the road and check fields for feeding gobblers, and try to get in front of them. A lot of hunters would have packed up after that first sit and waited until tomorrow. Getting on midday gobblers while they’re out feeding, and finding a way to cut them off can be one of the most exciting ways to hunt turkeys. Even pre-scouting fields in the afternoon is a great idea so you know from previous days where their favourite afternoon hideouts are that they like to hang out in.

Reaping

Another method of hunting mid-day gobblers that seems to be getting more and more popular is “reaping”. This technique is fairly simple and best used when a gobbler is already with one or more hens, and isn’t responding to any calling. All you need is a strutter decoy, such as a Mojo Scoot-N-Shoot, or the Avian-X Full Strut Jake works well too. Once you’ve located a gobbler, you simply use your strutter decoy as cover, and slowly work your way towards the turkey, while being careful to stay behind the decoy. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well it works. Try to bring a minimal amount of gear with you when doing this. Lose the vest. Put a diaphragm call in your mouth, shotgun in one hand and decoy in the other. Remember it’s not a race. Move slowly and stay hidden. A lot of the time a gobbler will come charging at you almost as soon as he sees you or when you start to get close to his hens. Be prepared for an extremely close shot when this happens, often under 5 yards. Sometimes it almost seems as if you’re shooting in self-defence when using this tactic. If the gobbler doesn’t charge you, slowly inch your way closer and closer until you are in range. One down side to this tactic is that other hunters may see you as a gobbler. It’s recommended to only try this on private property where you are the only person with permission to hunt. I highly recommend to NOT try this on public land.

Hunting longbeards off the roost can definitely be exciting and is proven effective but when things don’t work out in the morning, there’s still lots of hunting that can be done. Try something new this season and get yourself a mid-day bird!

Author: Eric Storey