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.
Use the Foliage to Your Advantage
Late season in the Midwest (May) typically means hunting in thick vegetation that helps to 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 is prime time. Sometimes the key is finding somewhere that toms feel secure enough to strut and feed. Recently disked fields, cattle pastures, or mature hardwood ridges where there’s not 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.
Love Sick Toms
Toms at this time of year can be love sick. Just like the whitetail rut, it seems that there is a “secondary” phase for turkey hunting that can lead to some great turkey hunting action. Soft yelps and purrs during this time phrase may be the ticket. Especially if you feel that your birds have been pressured at all, they might hang up just outside of range if you over call. You might be surprised at just how aggressive a tom will respond searching for the last receptive hens in the area.
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. I always try to cover my 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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Last Updated: April 29th, 2022