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Hunting The Roost: Unveiling The Late Season Turkey Hunter's Secret Weaponby Heath Wood

Hunting The Roost: Unveiling the Late Season Turkey Hunter’s Secret Weapon

What is the number one go-to tactic for late-season turkey hunters? As the curtain falls on another turkey hunting season, seasoned hunters face a familiar dilemma: how to coax those wary gobblers within range one last time. Late in the season, turkeys are no strangers to the game – they’ve weathered weeks of relentless pursuit, breeding battles, and constant calling. Yet, amidst the challenges, a tried-and-true tactic stands as a beacon of hope for the determined hunter: the best late-season tactic is getting close to the roost. Though every turkey hunter may not agree, many late-season hunters rely on targeting the roost tree as their ultimate late-season strategy. Let me offer some insights, tips, and techniques to see if you agree and maybe help you finish the season strong.

Understanding the Late Season Dynamic

As the season progresses, both hunters and turkeys transform. The once eager gobblers who woke up each morning with many thundering gobblers become increasingly cautious, staying much quieter on the limb, and silent and call-shy, wary of the constant pressure and relentless pursuit after they get on the ground. Likewise, hunters lose their morning enthusiasm, now relying on a more robust dark roast coffee to widen their tired eyes and resort to more creative tactics in their quest for that elusive trophy bird that can end their season with success. Amidst this late-season dance, the roost tree emerges as a sanctuary of sorts—a haven where weary birds seek refuge under the cover of darkness, making it the best place to hunt late season.

The Power of the Roost

So, why is the roost tree the ultimate late-season hotspot for turkey hunters? The answer lies in the behavior and psychology of the birds themselves. As the sun sets and darkness descends, turkeys instinctively flock to their roosting sites, seeking safety and shelter from nocturnal predators. By positioning yourself near these roost trees early in the mornings, you gain a strategic advantage over these weary birds. One of the most common hurdles that hunters face later in the season is turkeys who become shy, resulting in them hanging up outside of the shooting range because they don’t feel safe or are nervous to come any closer. The best way to eliminate the risk of gobblers hanging up is by being right on their tail moments after they fly off the roost. They don’t have time to hang up, which increases your chances of success.

Hunting The Roost: Unveiling The Late Season Turkey Hunter's Secret Weaponby Heath Wood

Tactics for Targeting the Roost

Successful hunting near the roost requires a combination of stealth, patience, and strategic calling. To maximize your chances of success, arrive at your hunting spot well before dawn, allowing ample time to set up and acclimate to your surroundings. If gobblers are roosted near a field or more open area, hunters can go in during the middle of the day and set up a ground blind such as the Hawk Reveal Ground Blind or Mancave Archery Blind. Once in position, maintain silence and avoid unnecessary movement that could spook nearby birds. When the time comes to call, opt for low-volume, subtle calls that mimic the sounds of a contented hen. One of my favorite low-volume calls is using a wood striker and the New H.S. Strut Camo Cutt’R Slate Turkey Call. The soft calls that can be made on slate calls are perfect for luring gobblers within range without arousing suspicion.

Fine-Tuning Your Approach

Adaptability is critical in the pursuit of late-season gobblers. Pay close attention to subtle cues and adjust your strategy accordingly. If birds respond positively to your calls, resist the urge to overcall, opting for intermittent soft clucks and purrs to maintain their interest. Conversely, if birds remain silent or exhibit skittish behavior, consider switching locations or employing a single hen decoy, such as the Avian X LCD Lookout or Feeder Hen Decoy. This decoy is made to resemble a lone hen who has flown off the roost and decided to hang out close by, looking for a gobbler who is searching for love one last time before the breeding season ends. This single decoy approach can enhance your setup, better than using a bunch of calls that can push pressured toms away. By remaining flexible and attuned to the birds’ behavior, you increase your chances of success in the late-season hunt.

In turkey hunting, the late season presents challenges and opportunities for the discerning hunter. As the days grow shorter and the woods quieter, the roost tree emerges as a last mainstay of opportunity in the quest for that elusive gobbler. By mastering the art of hunting near the roost, you unlock the potential to finish the season strong, securing your place among seasoned turkey hunters. So, heed the call of the wild, embrace the challenges of the late season, and let the roost tree guide you to victory in your pursuit of the ultimate turkey trophy.

Hunting The Roost: Unveiling The Late Season Turkey Hunter's Secret Weapon by Heath Wood
Turkey Hunt Vest Essentials, And What Shouldn’t Make The Cut

Turkey Hunt Vest Essentials, And What Shouldn’t Make The Cut

A mechanic working on broken-down automobiles would never get the job done if their tools were spread over the ground or here and there. Instead, they have a toolbox that keeps all their needed tools at a close distance and, more importantly, neat and organized for them to find what they need quickly. The same goes for a turkey hunter’s vest; I have often quoted veteran turkey hunter and champion caller Matt Morrett when prioritizing a turkey vest. He said, “a vest is a turkey hunters filing cabinet.” Those words have long stayed in my mind because they are true. When wearing a vest, hunters have everything they need to get the job done when calling a spring longbeard into close range.

When packing up your vest this spring, many essential items must never be left behind. At the same time, there are a few things that hunters should opt out of packing. Below is an extensive guide to a properly packed turkey vest, giving turkey hunters a significant advantage.

Turkey Calls

Turkey Hunt Vest Essentials, And What Shouldn’t Make The Cut

First and foremost, the essential item that every spring turkey hunter should carry in their vest is turkey calls. Many hunters, myself included, have an extensive collection of calls. However, taking every call along would make the hunter look and sound like an old mule hitched to a wagon traveling through the woods on the opening morning of hunting season.

Many hunters carry two or three diaphragm calls when hunting. Three-mouth calls are ideal because they don’t weigh anything, can be used in any weather condition, and keep the hunter motionless. Plus, they sound like a real hen turkey when properly used. Next is a pot-style call, such as the New Zink Calls Thunder Ridge Blaster. A pot-style call creates soft yelps, purrs, and clucks of the wild turkey. These calls have excellent volume and, with the proper striker, can also be used in wet conditions. While mentioning foul weather, a box call, such as the Zink Hick Talker, is perfect for those windy spring days when turkeys have difficulty hearing. The walnut bottom and hickory paddle of the Hick Talker create higher raspy hen sounds that carry excellent through the wind.

The last call that all hunters should have in their turkey vest is one or two locator calls. Locator calls give up a gobbler’s location by shocking them into gobbling at a natural sound. Many hunters carry an owl hooter and a crow call, such as the Hunters Specialties/DOD Crow Call. If your vest is getting too full, narrow it down to only the crow call because it can be used all day.

Mistake: Do not carry a box call in your vest without a built-in silencer to go in between the box and the call lid, as it could result in a squeaky box every time you step, which can spook nearby turkeys.

Essentials

Besides call pockets, many other pockets are included on a turkey vest. These pockets are for turkey hunting essentials such as gloves, facemasks, and extra shells. Turkeys have some of the best vision of any animal; wearing gloves and a facemask is vital to staying concealed from their eyes while traveling to a call. Plus, they help safely keep all exposed skin hidden from other hunters.

Mistake: Always have an extra pair of gloves and a facemask in your vest. If a glove is lost or a facemask can’t be found, it could ruin the hunt because of a gobbler spotting your location.

Turkey Hunt Vest Essentials, And What Shouldn’t Make The Cut

Tools

Turkey Hunt Vest Essentials, And What Shouldn’t Make The Cut

As I referred the turkey vest to a mechanics toolbox, it is only fair to list the essential tools that turkey hunters should keep within easy reach. Items such as binoculars and a rangefinder are often needed when hunting. One of the most important tools to keep close is a hand pruner, such as the Hawk Pruner.

A small compact pruner like the ones from Hawk can aid in making a quick ground blind when cover is limited or when clearing those one or two obstacles that could interfere with a shot on a mature gobbler.

Mistake: Using a small hand pruner instead of a saw is much quieter and provides less movement when cutting a quick shooting lane. Turkeys can hear and see much better than humans. A loud noise or unnecessary movement can ruin a hunt quickly.

Extras

There are always a few extra items to pack along in a turkey vest that many hunters typically do not consider. Tick spray or a Therma Cell can make a hunt much more enjoyable, preventing the nuisance of itching and scratching that can cause unnecessary movement. Next is an energy bar, such as an Mtn Ops Protein Bar and a water bottle. A protein bar can boost a hunter’s energy quickly and give them the energy they need to keep hunting. The same goes for water; chasing turkeys up and down the hills and woods can sometimes be exhausting. Staying hydrated is vital when hunting for an extended period.

Mistakes: Do not take a plastic water bottle when hunting. They are noisy and can result in nearby wildlife spooking. Instead, carry a durable bottle such as the Yeti Yonder Bottle, which can hold up through the grind of hunting.

Turkey Hunt Vest Essentials, And What Shouldn’t Make The Cut
Turkey Hunt Vest Essentials, And What Shouldn’t Make The Cut