Hunt Tip: Arrive Early for Henned-Up Toms

Eastern_tom6_300It’s one of the most aggravating occurrences for a spring turkey hunter, and it seems to happen more often than not during the early weeks of the season when toms are surrounded by hens. You know what I’m talking about: a bird gobbles his head off from the roost then shuts up when he hits the ground. Here’s how to beat him.

First, you need to be able to pinpoint the tom’s roost and get there before daylight. Preseason scouting really pays off on these birds if you can identify where they spend the evening and in which direction they go once they’re on the ground.

At the very least, make sure you roost the gobbler the night before you plan to hunt. Ease as close to his roost tree as you dare in the approaching darkness and try to pinpoint where he is. Mark the spot with a GPS or count your steps out of the woods for at least 100 yards until you come to a prominent landmark such as a trail or fence line that you will be able to identify in the dark. You can’t afford to be traipsing around the woods near the bird the next morning unless you want to spook it.

Get there an hour before sunrise, take your time and east into the exact spot where you left the bird the night before. Realtree Road Trips host Michael Waddell suggests getting as close as you can to the roosted bird, within 50 yards if possible. “Stake a decoy near your setup to give him something to see as soon as it gets light,” he says. You and your decoy want to be the first hen this big boy sees and hears at daylight.

At dawn offer up a couple of soft calls just to let the gobbler know you’re there. Make sure you’re set up so you don’t need to move. With luck, he’ll pitch down in range of your shotgun.

Photo courtesy of NWTF