By Cole Daniels
As a hint of sunlight crested above the eastern horizon the first gobble rang out. In moments it seemed as though the entire valley was covered in angry toms. Gobbles came from all directions and as the grey morning sky began turning blue the sound of wings flapping took over, even if just for a minute or two. Once the birds were on the ground a testosterone fueled gobble fest covered a recently plowed corn field. The hunt didn’t last long that day. But it wasn’t short on excitement. This is why turkey hunters ignore the snooze button at 4 AM.
As we all know, they’re not all that way. Sometimes the turkey woods awakens without a sound. If you listen closely you can hear wing beats but those pulse raising gobbles are silent. Maniacal toms now seem more placid. These birds are tougher to kill, but not impossible. Here are three successful tactics for hunting quiet gobblers.
Ever hear the saying “one too many roosters in the hen house”? The idea behind the phrase is having an acceptable male to female ratio on the farm will keep things peaceful. If there are too many cocks, they will constantly fight. Wild turkeys are the same way. If toms aren’t gobbling in the morning start gobbling at them. This is often enough to amp up their aggression and force them to come take a look. Turkeys often get quiet on windy days. They also have stubborn feet. If you get a few gobbles without any movement, this turkey may be a perfect candidate for a sneak. If it is windy, moving trees and brush can help you close the distance.
As mentioned above, quiet turkeys often get that way due to short term weather events. It not only affects gobblers, but hens as well. A lot of hunters just go out in the woods and hunt as though this isn’t occurring. If all the hens in a particular gobbler’s harem are quiet, loud and aggressive calling isn’t going to seem natural to him. Find a spot in the woods with a lot of turkey sign related to feeding and hunker down there. You’re looking for droppings, tracks, and scratchings. Get covered up and start with a series of quiet putts, purrs, and clucks. Try to sound like a lone hen feeding. This could lure in a gobbler or an entire flock. A ground blind works great for this kind of hunting because turkeys will literally sneak up on you. The ground blind will cover movement when you don’t know you’re being watched.
Late Season Fields
Toms will also tune down the gobbling as breeding season winds down. Late season birds shift their feeding focus from hard mast in the woods to succulent grasses. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve emerged from hunting timber all morning long and spotted turkeys covering a corn or young alfalfa field. Do a little scouting so if your morning setup strikes out you’ve got a nice field to hunt. The tricky part is staying ahead of the turkeys. You need to know where they’re going, not where they are. Of course, if you have time the scatter tactic commonly used for fall hunts will work too. Just scatter the birds and setup where they were. There is a reason turkeys were there. They don’t always come back but then again there are no guarantees in any hunt.
Hunting quiet gobblers isn’t easy. In fact, most hunters just call it a day when the going gets tough. But as the saying goes, you can’t kill ‘em from the couch. The next time you’re hunting a quiet turkey woods try these tactics. The challenge is exciting and the finesse tactics are a nice change of pace.