Afternoons and Evenings: Prime Time for Successful Turkey Hunting

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By Mike

Many turkey hunters swear by the early morning hours, renowned for their gobbling and active bird communication.

Yet, there’s a compelling reason to extend your hunting hours into the afternoon and evening.

During these times, turkeys continue to be active and, contrary to popular belief, can be effectively hunted with the right approach and understanding of their behavior.

The late-day hunt offers unique advantages. You might find the woods less crowded and the turkeys less wary after a day of encountering fewer humans.

Adjusting your strategy to suit the birds’ late-day patterns can lead to successful hunts.

The stillness of the evening, when birds are heading to their roost, can be an opportune time to capitalize on their predictable movements.

Key Takeaways

  • Afternoon and evening hunts can be highly successful with strategic planning.
  • Understanding and adapting to turkey behavior is essential for late-day hunting.
  • Safety and adherence to local regulations are paramount during these times.

Understanding Turkey Behavior

In your pursuit of turkey hunting, recognize that their behavioral patterns are pivotal to success. Turkeys are creatures of habit, and by understanding their feeding and roosting routines, you can increase your chances of a successful hunt.

Feeding Patterns

Wild turkeys typically forage for food during the day. In the afternoon, this activity intensifies as they consume enough to sustain them through the night. You’ll find them in fields and forests, scratching and pecking at the ground, searching for:

  • Insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars
  • Seeds and grains, favoring waste grains in harvested fields
  • Wild berries, when in season
  • Green foliage from a variety of plants

The late afternoon is a prime time to catch turkeys feeding more aggressively in preparation for the night.

Roosting Habits

As evening approaches, turkeys seek out their roosting spots, usually in large trees that offer protection from predators. This transition to their roost typically starts before sunset. Key roosting insights include:

  • Trees near water sources or in woody terrain
  • Preference for hardwoods like oaks rather than conifers
  • Roosting often occurs socially, with multiple birds in a single tree

These evening hours are less crowded with hunters, making your approach less disturbed and potentially more fruitful as you zero in on roost-happy birds.

Strategies for Afternoon Hunts

Effective turkey hunting in the afternoon requires meticulous strategy, particularly in decoy placement and calling techniques that accommodate the birds’ altered behavior post-noon.

Decoy Placement

Strategically placing your decoys can significantly increase your chances of attracting a turkey. In the afternoon, turkeys often seek out areas for dusting and lounging in the shade to escape the day’s heat.

Set up your decoy spread near these areas or along field edges where turkeys commonly forage before roosting. Deploy a mix of hen and jake decoys to simulate a natural social setting, enticing gobblers seeking company.

Ensure your decoys are visible from a distance, and consider using movement to add realism.

Calling Techniques

Your calling strategy should adapt to the quieter afternoon woods. Start with softer calls to mimic the average energy levels of turkeys during this time.

Employ a series of clucks and purrs indicative of contented, feeding birds, and intersperse these with the occasional yelp.

If responses are heard, gauge the turkey’s interest and respond accordingly, but avoid over-calling.

Lone gobblers or hens regrouping for the evening are more likely to investigate the source of your calls if they sound authentic and not overly aggressive.

Evening Hunting Tactics

When targeting turkeys in the evening, your success hinges on employing the right tactics. Approaching these birds with a strategic mindset enhances your chances as their behaviors shift toward the end of the day.

Spot and Stalk Approaches

Your ability to spot turkeys before they roost can offer a prime stalking opportunity. As sunlight wanes, turkeys are often on the move, feeding and settling down. Here’s how you can make the most of this behavior:

  • Locate feeding areas: Recognize spots turkeys favor for their evening meal.
  • Use terrain to your advantage: Gently roll hills, ridges, and other natural features to conceal your approach.

Remember, your movements must be slow and deliberate to avoid spooking the birds.

Ambush Setup

Setting up an ambush near roosting sites or along the path turkeys take to get there is another effective evening strategy. To increase your odds:

  1. Identify Patterns: Learn where turkeys roost and the routes they frequent.
  2. Choose Your Spot:
    • Set up downwind of the anticipated turkey path.
    • Use natural cover for concealment.
  3. Minimize Movement: Remain still and patient for turkeys to come into range.

Safety Measures and Legal Considerations

Before Heading Out:

  • Check Regulations: Ensure you know your local wildlife laws, which dictate turkey hunting seasons, bag limits, and legal hunting hours.
  • Hunting License: Carry a valid hunting license to avoid legal issues.
  • Permission: If hunting on private land, obtain written permission from the landowner.

Safety Gear:

  • Wear Orange: Even though turkeys are colorblind, other hunters are not. Wearing blaze orange helps you stay visible.
  • Protective Clothing: Dress appropriately to guard against the elements and insects.
  • First Aid Kit: Always have a basic first aid kit on hand for emergencies.

Field Safety:

  • Identify Your Target: Never shoot until you identify the turkey.
  • Communication: Let someone know where you will be hunting and when to return.
  • Firearm Safety: Always handle your firearm as if it were loaded.

Environmental Considerations:

  • Respect Wildlife: Use ethical hunting practices to maintain ecological balances.
  • No Littering: Carry out everything you bring, including spent shells and trash.

By staying informed on the laws, preparing accordingly, and respecting both safety and environmental considerations, you can ensure a responsible and enjoyable turkey hunting experience.

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