© By Othmar Vohringer
To be perfectly truthful, sometimes afternoon hunts can be more productive than morning hunts. For two reasons. Firstly, most hunters go home around lunchtime which means you have the woods to yourself. With fewer hunters there is less hunting pressure which in turn makes for less spooky toms. Secondly, as the season progresses more hens sit on the eggs in the afternoon and toms search frantically for the remaining hens and become susceptible to calling.
How you hunt turkeys in the afternoon? Morning tactics work well, with the only difference that you don’t have to be so aggressive to bring a tom in to your set. Instead of a full flock of decoys you do very well with only a jake and hen to arouse a tom’s full attention. Throw in a few soft calls and he will come running. In the afternoon toms react in general faster than in the morning because there are fewer hens around to distract him.
Start with hunting typical strutting areas, like you would in the morning, close to roosting areas. Be careful in your approach to your setup. At this time of day the birds are out and about, slowly working their way back to the roosting trees, unlike in the early morning when they are still all in the trees. It is good advice to stop frequently and call a bit to “detect” birds that you can’t see but are close by. This way a gobbler will often respond before you reached your planned set up. In this case set up quickly on the most appropriate spot available and keep calling, the tom might be on his way in.
If nothing is happening get up and continue. In the afternoon I like to walk a lot, or as I call it, the run-and-gun method. Stopping every 50 to 60 yards to call and hope to get a response. Sometimes toms respond right away and other times they sneak quietly in. Always be prepared for a tom to appear out nowhere. When you walk keep as much as possible just inside the edge of woodland to disguise your movement, remember turkeys have eagle like eyesight. When you stop to call look first for a setup such as a small clearing or fields with adequate trees nearby to sit against. If you have time you can set out a decoy or two fine, if not just sit tight and wait.
As mentioned earlier the calling should be light. Content clucks, purrs and soft yelps with the occasional cluck to two thrown in to mimic a feeding hen often provide the desired result in bringing a wandering tom within shooting range. A true run-and-gun tactic is to observe turkeys from a distance. Observe what direction they are heading and then try to get undetected ahead of them, set up and wait for the birds to parade by you. In this case it pays to know where the birds roost as they slowly work their way back to the roosting trees.