Late-Season Gobblers

Gobblers at the wire are tough. Here are some reasons why.

For weeks, that dominant tom has gobbled and the hen or hens came to his position, often a strut zone. Ever notice how many times you raise a gobbler and the hens arrive to intercept him? You started things off and the girls finished it.

Now, late in the season, he gobbles and they don't come to him. Why? They're nesting, some of them 24/7. Yes, hens leave their nest for a short period of time during the day to feed and defecate. This dropping is huge, and I've found several recently here in the northeast. Then they return to the nest. They don't go to him.

The result? You have a deadlock. You call, he gobbles, but doesn't come. He hangs up. The answer? Get tight to his roost tree well before sunrise--a tough deal here in the Northeast as seasons wind down. That means getting up at 2:30 a.m. for some of us . . .

Options include setting up tight, and calling softly with a no-hands mouth call, if at all, after he flies down.

Better yet, if you can nail the hang-up strut zone, he might just come to the location, and you'll be waiting.

Decoys may or may not pull him in. If he gobbles, and those hen fakes aren't in his location, well then you're back in a stalemate. Maybe he'll come; maybe not.

You may just choose to hang out in that area, hoping he crosses your path. For the guy who likes to get a gobbler fired up and bring him in to the calls that may or may not be a hollow victory.

You may even want to find a legal shortbeard somewhere, and fill that tag for the backyard grill. Or not.

New Hampshire, Vermont and New York State seasons continue until May 31. Maine goes until June 6, the latest running option in the country. And then it's time to catch up with stories from the past spring season, and to look for those first poults with their brood hens.