Finest Day of the Turkey Strut: April 18

We revealed the seven Best Days of the Turkey Strut a number of weeks in the past, and now Day No. 3 is upon us and focuses on late-morning/afternoon searching, so there’s nonetheless loads of time to tug your stuff collectively, make an excuse, and get on the market. Turkey seasons are in full swing throughout a lot of the nation, and, as in lots of areas, hen numbers are down in Arkansas, residence of this week’s knowledgeable. Inhabitants density can have a giant impact on the habits of birds in the course of the spring breeding season and, after all, how hunters ought to alter techniques to attain. When turkey numbers are low, it’s sometimes resulting from a poor hatch within the earlier spring (if not a number of springs) so, along with fewer birds to hunt, the present birds are older toms who will not be as desirous to run to a yelp as a two-year-old or a jake. Clearly this may pose some difficulties, however there are nonetheless loads of methods to attain, and no person is aware of that higher than immediately’s knowledgeable.

The Professional: Phillip Vanderpool, Arkansas

photo of hunter with turkey
Phillip Vanderpool with a big-woods gobbler. Phillip Vanderpool

Credentials: Vanderpool, host of The Virtue out of doors tv present, hunts gobblers throughout their vary each spring, however he lower his turkey searching tooth on his residence floor, which incorporates the huge Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Completely compfortable with a shotgun or muzzleloader, Vanderpool has taken greater than 100 gobblers with a bow, many with out the usage of a blind. 

Strut Stage: Submit Peak Breeding

“We’re most likely a bit previous peak breeding now in Arkansas,” Vanderpool says. “Dominant gobblers could have had some success breeding hens in sure areas, and so they’ll preserve returning to these spots till they give up having that success. Additionally, as soon as hens begin laying eggs, they gained’t be with gobblers very lengthy within the morning, in order that hen could also be susceptible later within the day. Sub-dominant toms will begin grouping up now a bit, so rely on these gobblers mixing it up with one another and responding extra aggressively to calls. However with hen numbers down, I don’t anticipate to come across as many of those gobbler teams as I’d in a standard yr.” 

Vanderpool runs path cameras year-round anyway, however says that at any time when populations are low, these instruments turn into actually essential. “I set them up in areas the place I anticipate turkey exercise, together with water sources, oak ridges, and logging roads. Some mornings, I could not even hear a gobbler, but when my path cams have identified some good areas, I simply go to these and attempt to strike a gobbler. And if I’m within the temper to take a seat, these are the spots to simply plunk down and preserve calling. Lastly, it’s actually essential to remain extremely cellular now. I’ve 1000’s of acres of public land to roam, and if one spot is useless, I simply preserve hopping to new areas that I do know maintain birds. Generally it may be silent as a tomb in a single space, and I drive 5 or 10 miles and discover a gobbler or two lighting up the woods.”

Professional Tactic for April 10: Strike a Late-Day Tom within the Timber

At all times the optimist, Vanderpool says low hen numbers can truly be a superb factor for a hunter. “Toms simply have fewer hens to breed, so even should you encounter a henned-up gobbler at daybreak, likelihood is excessive that hen can be lonely later within the day,” he says. That’s why he recommends a late-morning or afternoon hunt now. “I like to stroll ridge tops, making an attempt to strike one with a field name, and I by no means hesitate to verify in with a gobbler that wouldn’t budge early within the morning, or perhaps a tom I may need bumped. Give that hen a pair hours of alone time, and he’ll probably run to a name. If I strike a hen mid-morning or later, I don’t waste time taking his temperature or making an attempt to fireside him up; likelihood is excessive he’s already coming as quickly as he hears my name. So I get out a Dave Smith jake decoy and set it up in a gap within the timber the place I do know the tom will see it. Jake decoys are important in timber hunts as a result of the purple head is extra seen. I’ve had many toms are available in to a single hen decoy and easily not see it. However that purple head will get his consideration for certain. Then it’s only a matter of soppy calling and scratching within the leaves; these ending techniques will get him to shut the gap. I’ve killed lots of turkeys lots of alternative ways, and in my thoughts there’s nothing higher than calling one up within the hardwoods, with my again pressed towards a giant previous oak.”

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