-By Rich Miller
Turkey season is rapidly coming to an end for us here in South Carolina and everyone is wondering what happened to all of the turkeys. Over the past couple of weeks I have had several people calling asking what is wrong with the turkeys this year. I don’t know if anything is wrong with them or not, these old eastern birds have always acted crazy and been hard to figure out. One morning they seem to gobble every breath and the next morning you wouldn’t think there was a turkey in that part of the country.
Another thing is that these birds have been harassed and chased during every daylight hour since the end of March. These turkeys have not had any relief around here; if there is a piece of property that has birds on it, they are being hunted. On the properties that I hunt I try not to put too much pressure on the turkeys. The unfortunate thing is the turkeys don’t just stay on my property and you cannot control how much the people hunt the adjoining property.
This morning about eight o’clock I was next to a river looking off the side of a big bluff. Across the river there was a big gobbler strutting with about five hens on the bank. I gave him about four short yelps to see if I could get him to gobble and they all headed toward the woods like I shot at them. Do you think these birds were call shy? Everyone has been saying that it is over, all the hens are on the nest and the gobblers aren’t interested anymore. Seeing this bird with all those hens told me that all of the hens are not sitting on a nest right now. It also told me that to get close to these birds, a hunter better keep his calls in his pocket.
You can’t hunt the same way at the end of the season as you do at the beginning of it. I do very little calling in the late season; mostly I do some soft purrs and clucks. If I do any yelping, one or two is all I give them and I try to keep them as soft as possible. If I am hunting in hard woods I will scratch in the leaves to add a little realism and it will give the gobbler a little more confidence to come into my setup.
We can change our turkey calling techniques or where we are hunting or the hours we hunt. Some hunters change up their decoys and will not use gobbler or jake decoys. Others will only use hens and some use none at all. These are all good changes and will probably go a long way in helping hunters bag a bird late in the season, but the main ingredient for success this time of year is patience. Without patience the only way we could get an adult gobbler to the truck this time of year would be a lot of luck!