BY DOUG HOWLETT
Late-season toms are notoriously quiet. Here’s how pros coax call-shy gobblers.
1. Speak Softly Keep calling to a minimum and use calls you didn’t use earlier in the season. At this stage in the game I prefer a tube call. Not only does it allow him to make a full range of hen and tom vocalizations, but it’s a call few hunters use, meaning toms will be less wary of its sound.
I recommend calling softly at first with just a few basic yelps. If nothing answers, run through the series again, lending the calls more volume and a sense of excitement. Then, using the same tube, respond with a gobble. This works to convince nearby toms-particularly dominant ones-that eager hens and competing males are nearby. For those hunters who have yet to master a tube call, you can perform the same call sequence using a diaphragm to make yelps, then use a gobbler shaker for gobbles. But don’t overdo it. “Turkeys aren’t doing a lot of calling at this time of year, so you shouldn’t, either. You want everything to seem as natural to the gobbler as possible,” he says. Instead, remain silent for 10 or 20 minutes, sometimes even longer, before making more calls.
2. Use Those Decoys Many hunters have mixed feelings about decoys, but they’re almost a must in the late season. “When you’re sitting there, not calling a lot, decoys act as a constant visual beacon”. They are particularly useful in field setups and open terrain, where turkeys can spot them from far away. While two hens and a jake work best in most setups, H.S. Strut’s Ray Eye suggests that when challenging a tom with gobbler yelps and other male calls, a jake by itself will work fine.