Q.: Hello. When is the best time to start calling for turkeys? At the break of daylight or before daylight or a little while after daylight? Thanks ... John Maynor from W.Va... Our turkey season opens April 27th here. Thanks again.
A.: Hi John. Thanks for the question. It's a good one. I tend to (1) owl hoot when it's still dark in the morning to locate roosted turkeys, and (2) simply listen if that doesn't work. Sometimes a real owl or passing crow at first light will get them going. I tend to also listen hard for soft tree calling from turkeys.
Once located, I'll reposition on roosted gobblers, using terrain to get as close as I can. If I've located turkeys the night before, I'll simply get in there real early the next morning, and let them start talking first. Up close, a no-hands mouth call is essential.
I killed a longbeard in Florida last month by listening for tree calling after my owling (and that from real ones) did nothing to locate roosted gobblers. I then snuck in to around 50 yards using cover. Once set up, I got the hens talking back with soft clucks and yelps. Then the gobblers kicked in. After watching hens fly down in front of me, a gobbler winged down, and landed in range. It doesn't always work that way for sure. Later in the season I might even wait for turkeys to get on the ground before calling.
Hope this helps. Good luck!
--Steve Hickoff, Realtree.com
(Steve Hickoff photo)
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Realtree turkey hunting editor Steve Hickoff has chased gobblers all over the United States and Mexico. He was born and raised in northcentral Pennsylvania, and now makes his home in Maine. Hickoff was named the NWTF Tom Kelly Communicator of the Year for 2019, a prestigious award reflecting his longtime work promoting hunting and conservation as a turkey hunting writer, editor and book author.