John's Journal...

Late-Season Gobbler Tactics

The Squirrel-Tailed Gobbler

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: When you hunt turkeys during the late season, you’ll have to hunt the toughest gobblers on the property. But hopefully, you’ll have a history of those turkeys. You should kClick to enlargenow what they’ve done in the past, and what you can expect them to do in the future. You have to decide on a method you haven’t used in the past to take those turkeys. You’ll have to abandon what’s considered turkey wisdom and use off-the-wall tactics to hunt these tough toms. Let’s look at some tough toms I’ve hunted, the people I’ve hunted with, and how we’ve finally taken our birds.

This turkey got his name because my buddy, Joe Smith of Union Springs, Alabama, said this bird had a beard as big as a squirrel’s tail. We caught up to this gobbler in the late season as he walked through a hardwood bottom, right beside a hill with a long green field on it. The green field went from the top of the hill down to the bottom.
"Let’s go to him," I encouraged Smith, as we sat on the edge of the green field about half-way between the top and the bottom. "No, we’re not going to him," Smith said. "Why not?" I questioned. "Because that’s what everyone who hasn’t taken him has done," Smith answered. Gobbling good, the Squirrel-Tailed Gobbler finally left the bottom and started walking up the hill on the opposite side of the green field from where we sat.
"Let’s go get him, Joe," I insisted. "No, not yet," Joe replied. "That bird hasn’t decided whether he wants to stay in the bottom, walk the road on top of the green field or come out into the green field. We’ll let him decide what he’s going to do, and then we’ll know what we need to do." Click to enlarge

After 30 minClick to enlargeutes of waiting, we could tell by the direction of the turkey’s gobbling that he had moved up to the top of the field and probably would walk the road to the top of the hill to look down in the green field until he decided to move out into it. "Let’s go now," Smith said. "We’ll get up to the top of the green field. When that turkey starts walking down the road, you can take him." We moved quickly and quietly and took a stand in the woodline at the top of the hill on the edge of the green field. Within 15 minutes, Smith announced, "There he is." Then he whispered, "There’s a dip in the road. When that Squirrel-Tailed Gobbler gets down in the dip, he won’t be able to see you move, so make your final adjustment and get ready to take the shot." When the tom vanished into the dip, I got my shotgun on my knee and readied for the shot. As he walked out of the ditch, I squeezed the trigger, and the Squirrel-Tailed Gobbler went home with us. On the way out of the woods, Smith explained, "If you know everything that hasn’t worked on a particular gobbler, then you can’t try any of those same tactics, particularly if you’re hunting him late in the season. You have to let that tom tell you how to take him by listening to what he does, and where he’s going. If you can determine where that turkey’s going and why he’s going there, you’ll have a real-good chance of taking him."

Tomorrow: Ole Slick

Check back each day this week for more about "Late-Season Gobbler Tactics"

Day 1: The Ghostbuster
Day 2: Still Hunting the Ghostbuster
Day 3: The Squirrel-Tailed Gobbler
Day 4: Ole Slick
Day 5: More with Ole Slick



Entry 400, Day 3