Late Season Turkey Hunting

Hunting turkeys during the late season brings on a whole new set of challenges. Pressured birds, insects, and foliage can make hunting turkeys in the late season tough. If you can get passed the swarms of mosquitoes and buffalo gnats, hunting the end of the season does have a unique set of advantages.

Hunting the silent tom Use the Foliage to your Advantage:

Late season in the Midwest (May) typically means hunting in thick vegetation that can help aid hunters conceal themselves. It also allows hunters to maneuver on turkeys undetected. For the run-and-gun style turkey hunters who enjoy “stalking” or “reaping” turkeys, this works well for their hunting style.

Sometimes the key is finding somewhere that toms feel secure enough to strut and feed during the latter part of the season. Recently disked fields, cattle pastures, or mature hardwood ridges where there’s not as much ground cover are a few of my favorite late season turkey set ups. In highly pressured areas, it seems toms are more likely to stay in the timber on open ridgetops where they feel somewhat protected from being out in the open. The buffalo gnats are typically not as harassing in a closed canopy compared to open fields where they will swarm birds. If you’ve ever harvested a bird this time of year, and carried it across an open field on the way back to the truck, you’ll understand what I’m talking about..

Tone it Down:

Toms at this time of the season can be lovesick and may surprise you just how aggressive they respond to the right type of calling. Especially mid-morning when hens disappear to sit on nest. Soft frequency yelps, purrs and imitating leaf scratching during this time phase may be the ticket to punching your tag. If birds have had hunting pressure and you overcall, they will probably hang up just out of range or gobble a few times and go silent. Just like the whitetail rut, it seems that there is a “secondary” phase for turkey hunting that can lead to heart pounding turkey hunting action.

Late Season Turkey Hunting Staying Comfortable:

Sitting in one spot and waiting for hours on end is not uncommon tactic during the late season. The last thing you want to be doing is swatting mosquitoes when a bird is closing the distance. Bug spray and/or a Thermacell are a necessity during this time of the season. Cover your boots, waistline, and shirt cuffs with bug/tick spray. That’s the most common places ticks will get under your clothing and onto your skin. Vanilla spray can keep the buffalo gnats at bay for short periods of time, but I also always pack a cheap bug net just in case they become overwhelming.

Gobbling at this time of year can range from great to complete silence after fly down. If you know a bird is working the area, spray down and get comfortable. Tom Kelly put it best when he said, “You have to pay for every bird you kill and the coin you use to pay for them is time”.

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-Zach Jumps




Last Updated: April 30th, 2024

6 thoughts on “Late Season Turkey Hunting

  1. I am a beginner and like to get information on the turkey and deer hunt. What is required of me in regarding equipment. And an idea of the costs. Thank You

  2. When does the season run to in Illinois? What do you charge for a turkey hunt? How many tags can a person get?

    1. Hi Jim, thanks for inquiring about a turkey hunt. The season typically starts at the beginning of April and runs through the middle of May. You can get 2 tags when hunting with us. The first bird is included in the price of $1,750, the second bird is an additional $500. Please let me know if you have any other questions! Thank you!

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