by Efton Green
While there are a number of states that won’t let you turkey hunt in the afternoon, for those that do, afternoon turkey hunting can be one of the most productive times to be in the turkey woods. The difference in trying to call turkeys in the afternoon compared to the morning may surprise you. It’s a whole different game when hunting gobblers in the afternoon that have found themselves without the company of a hen. Here are a few tips that have helped me through the years to be successful when afternoon turkey hunting.
Finding Patterns for Afternoon Turkey Hunting
First of all, you obviously can’t kill a turkey if there are no turkeys in the area you’re hunting. Find the birds, and then key in on what afternoon patterns those birds are on. If you have birds and you know a basic pattern of where your birds are in the afternoon, you’re ready to hunt.
It’s been my experience in the afternoons that birds like to hit the fields before they’ll head back to the roost to fly up. If you can glass food plots and fields you can usually spot your birds to determine what time of the day they like to use the field. This will vary from field to field and flock to flock. Once I have a basic understanding of the pattern when the birds like to enter the field, I’ll get in and be set up before I think any birds may be in the field. Beating the birds to the field can be tough. It’s easy to get busted trying to slip in to get set up. Don’t mess up here. Get in earlier than you think you should.
Don’t Blow Up the Roost
A lot of guys will find where a turkey roosts and go sit at the tree to be waiting for him when he returns. This may or may not produce results, but what it will do is greatly disrupt the pattern these turkeys are on. Think about it. You have birds roosting on the property you hunt. You want to keep it that way. Blowing up the roost by busting birds at their roost tree is a sure way to push your birds off onto a neighboring property. You want these birds to comfortably roost in that spot day after day. So, back off the roost far enough that they still have the opportunity to travel to the roost tree, regardless of how your hunt goes down. As mentioned above, find the travel patterns and habits of these birds as they head back to roost, but make your move long before they get there.
The Afternoon Turkey Hunting Setup
The setup for afternoon turkey hunting is important to success. I always use a Jake decoy and often use a hen decoy next to it. I put a piece of fishing line around the head of my Jake so that I can keep it moving as I want to attract birds from a distance. Movement is the key to success when it comes to decoys. Young birds will often be duped by a stationary decoy, however, older birds will typically stand at a distance and watch for movement of decoys he encounters. I’ve had too many birds skirt by me when my decoys did not move.
I also allow that decoy line to lay on the backside of my hen decoy, allowing me to move both decoys at the same time. I set up about 7 to 10 yards away from my decoys, and try to use a little brush for concealment. I like to set up in such a way that the birds walk past me on their approach to the decoys. I’ve also added artificial ivy to my bow for extra camo and to break up my bow and body outline. I simply look like a bush sitting there instead of human form.
Low Key Calling for Afternoon Turkey Hunting
Calling is another element of an afternoon hunt to consider. Calling can be a make or break move for afternoon turkey hunting. Don’t overdo it here. I like to call about every 15 minutes or so and keep things light. I typically just cluck and purr, with a few soft yelps thrown in from time to time. Don’t get too excited with your calling in the afternoons. It’s not natural, like what you might hear first thing in the morning. They just aren’t as vocal in the afternoons.
Afternoons have been extremely productive for me over the years. If you have not tried afternoon turkey hunting, you owe it to yourself to get out there and give it a try. You’ll find that afternoon turkey hunting can be just as productive, maybe more, than any other time of day.