The early turkey seasons are in the books and the guaranteed hunt (No. 234) is in full bloom. I hope you early-season hunters had some success this spring. If you tagged a gobbler, be sure to send me a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The forest is greening up now, insects are hatching and it seems like every toms in the county is henned-up right off the roost. What’s a gobbler hunter to do?
Try calling the hen.
That’s right, forget the lovesick yelps and clucks and get down right sleezy. The goal here is to aggravate the hen so much that she thinks you are trying to steal her man. On a good number of such occasions, I’ve called the hen over to my location and the tom came following behind.
The key is to hook up with a talkative hen.
Often, a hen will respond to late-season calls. My guess is that she’s trying to tell that skanky old hen across the field (me) that her tom is taken and to go away. I try to ruffle her feathers by being persistent and antagonistic.
I try to mimic her... and then some.
If she yelps three times I yelp three times with as much aggression inflicted into my call as possible. Then, before she responds, I repeat the three-yelp sequence. If she clucks, I cluck more. If she cuts, I cut more. I’m trying to fire her up so much that she just has to come over and see who I am and what I’m up to.
Don’t be afraid to call on top of her calls, either.
If, after a few minutes, the talk continues but the hen doesn’t move towards you, wait for her to start yelping then yelp (use the last sequence she used) louder right over the top of her call.
As a last resort, I’ll cut very aggressively and for a relatively long period of time.
Once she starts moving in your direction, don’t quit calling like you might in the early season when a tom is coming to the call. Continue to antagonize her. She’s hooked, but you don’t want her to think she scared you away. You want her to think you are being confrontational.
At moments like this a mouth call or a push-button call is very helpful. The hen is looking hard to find you and any movement will be detected.
This technique doesn’t work all the time, but it does give you another tactic in your arsenal that might just help you put a tag on a turkey this spring.