Hunting > Turkeys

Hunting Late-Season Toms

When the birds are hunter smart and weary of the mating game, here’s how we put a tag on their legs.


The only thing predictable about late-season gobblers is their unpredictability. As the spring season winds down, they are educated to the ways of hunters. They are also worn out from the annual breeding frenzy.

Last year some friends and I found that turkeys were responding with vocal enthusiasm to our calls, but they would not move an inch closer to our setups. In the early season that usually means they are with hens. But all the toms we had been seeing were alone or in groups of two or three. The hens were on the nest. We figured it was time to step outside our comfort zone and try new tactics.

We circled ahead of the toms and called from where they were headed, but they veered around us. I guess they no longer liked girls. Or maybe they had heard too much calling.

So we switched up our approach. We stayed behind the feeding toms in the hilly country, following slowly, but closing the gap. When we came to a small hill, I hunkered down and crept up until I could just see the tom picking at something good to eat. I stood up and yelped. He picked up his head and through my sights I saw that “oh crap” look of a turkey who knows he just messed up. He weighed 24.5 pounds!

Back at camp, my buddy Mike Mattly was shooting photos of more birds. Mike is the PR director for Knight & Hale calls, and I have hunted with him enough over the years to know he would probably have a different, less “in-your-face” approach to these same problems. So I asked about all those birds he was photographing.

“I treat these late-season birds like an old whitetail buck after the rut,” Mike told me.

“They’re tired of being harassed and want to eat and rest, so I head to feeding areas like a cattle pasture where there are cow pies to scratch in. I use binos to locate the gobblers and then set up ahead of where they are going.

“By now the gobblers are done with fighting so I set out a few Carry-Lite Pretty Mamma HD feeding hens decoys. I use soft purrs and clucks on the Knight & Hale Tirade box call or Ol’ Yeller friction call so I sound like some turkeys that have found something good to eat. As you can see from our willing photo models, it works!”

For great hunting all season long in Iowa and Missouri contact: Aaron Volkmar at

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1 Response to Hunting Late-Season Toms

randy wrote:
May 12, 2011

great artical i have 5th season they wont come to decoys or calls so ive been going to them it almost paid off a couple times teaching my young son but i think itll pay off soon lota birds just a