Ninth Inning Gobblers
By Cole Daniels
It’s a situation played out by turkey hunters across the nation… a desperate attempt to avoid eating tag soup with the last hunt of the year. If the season is winding down and you still have an unfilled turkey tag, it may be time to throw out conventional wisdom and take a few swings. But just like a baseball power hitter trying to rally his team in the ninth inning, these strategies are swinging for the fence. Keep in mind, if you swing for the fence you may strike out.
Plan For The Entire Day
Let’s face it, most of us don’t get to hunt as much as we would like. The final day of the season is just that. There will be no hunting until fall. So use this as an excuse to hunt all day. Pack a lunch and a water bottle. Every moment you spend out of the woods could be a missed opportunity. If evening hunting is legal in your area, fly up time could be your last, best chance.
Switch It Up
Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Hunters often find themselves repeating their failures because some blowhard hunting writer told them to do things a certain way. Fear is another major roadblock to trying something new. We’re afraid if we try a new technique we might mess up. Well, if you still have an unfilled tag at the end of the season, maybe the way you have been doing things is messed up! If you have hunted with decoys all season, leave the decoys at home. If you typically yelp with a box call, purr with a pot and peg call. If you’ve sat in a blind all season, try to get in close and sit against a tree. Even if you don’t shoot a bird, you will learn something and be energized by a new experience.
Be Where The Turkeys Want To Be
By this point in the season you should have a good idea of where turkeys travel, feed, and roost. Make notes of where turkeys cross fences, creeks, and woodlots. This information can be invaluable. By the time the season winds down, turkeys can become hesitant to respond to calling. If you are where they want to be, no calling is required.
Incorporate Fall Tactics
Deer hunters often wait until the season is coming to a close before starting deer drives. Turkey hunters can do the same. An often used fall technique is busting up a flock. Let’s say a flock of turkeys is feeding in a field and after lengthy attempts at calling them, they won’t budge. Just walk out into the field and bust the flock up. Then immediately set up and start calling them back. Turkeys are in that field for a reason. You can usually lure a few back. If not, try to circle around them and start the process again.
Turkeys are unpredictable creatures. A slight change in weather or wind can make them act completely different than they did the day before. Learning to recognize these subtle changes and how to react to them is what separates an average hunter from a great one.
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