Photo Gallery: What Gobblers Do While Hens Lay Eggs

Wild Turkey Breeding Behavior Photos

By
Henned Up

Image 1 of 13

1 | Henned Up

Prior to the egg-laying period gobblers are typically “henned up” as flocks spend the day together. Hunting can be tough. Even the most realistic calls offered to a wise old bird strutting his stuff for hens often fail. It can be a downright demoralizing period from a hunter’s perspective. Once egg laying begins, gobblers spend more time without hens. Savvy, patient hunters who stay in the woods know a lonely tom is susceptible to seductive hen calls.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

Image 1 of 13

Flocks Gather

Image 2 of 13

2 | Flocks Gather

Flocks typically gather after fly down to feed, breed and preen during early morning hours. Hens depart by late morning for their respective nesting areas to lay an egg. Clutches average 9-12 eggs which are laid over about a two-week period.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

Image 2 of 13

Midday Gobblers

Image 3 of 13

3 | Midday Gobblers

A gobbler is busy strutting for hens during early morning and feeds sparingly. Midday gobblers will take time to feed and replenish their energy. Use quality optics to glass fields and food plots near nesting areas during midday hours.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

 

 

Image 3 of 13

Preening

Image 4 of 13

4 | Preening

Preening is an important behavior for all turkeys to control pests, tend their oil gland and clean and smooth feathers into place. Gobblers preen and dust after busy morning activities. Gobbler dust bowls are large. Watch for feather evidence. Make scouting and hunting more effective. Disk dusting lanes along viewable woods roads, field edges and food plot perimeters.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

 

 

Image 4 of 13

Stretching

Image 5 of 13

5 | Stretching

Stretching is a common behavior in turkeys, especially gobblers. Leg stretching such as this often follows a preening or loafing period.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

 

 

Image 5 of 13

Power Nap

Image 6 of 13

6 | Power Nap

Turkey hunters aren’t the only ones catching a power nap in the spring woods. Sleeping on the ground is not that unusual for a gobbler during the breeding season. Toms need energy for afternoon strutting when hens return from their egg-laying duties.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

 

 

 

 

Image 6 of 13

Wing Flapping

Image 7 of 13

7 | Wing Flapping

Wing flapping can be a stretching exercise such as this midday gobbler is doing, or it can signal a bird’s intent to move or exit the area. Pay attention to wing flapping when hunting and be prepared for a gobbler to change its position.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

 

 

Image 7 of 13

Airborne Danger

Image 8 of 13

8 | Airborne Danger

Though a mature gobbler is an unlikely target, all turkeys are acutely aware of airborne danger such as owls and hawks. This lone gobbler spotted a red-tailed hawk swooping low to hunt prey in a field during midday.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

 

 

Image 8 of 13

Squatting

Image 9 of 13

9 | Squatting

Squatting is not uncommon in gobblers who are “chilling out” to rest during midday hours. During the egg-laying period hens generally return to favored feeding areas. Gobblers may travel in search of hens but some stay close or return to afternoon feeding and roost areas. This bird was content to squat and hang out until the hens returned.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

 

 

Image 9 of 13

Feeding Areas

Image 10 of 13

10 | Feeding Areas

Glass fields in mid-afternoon for gobblers that are returning to feeding areas. Gobblers may enter a field or food plot and post midfield, at a safe vantage point from predators, to survey the area as hens rejoin and feed.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

 

 

Image 10 of 13

Gobblers without Hens

Image 11 of 13

11 | Gobblers without Hens

Gobblers without hens during midday can be very vulnerable to hen calls. Use locator calling such as a crow call to pinpoint a lonely gobbler’s location. Have a setup chosen before calling if you’re using turkey calls to locate. Be ready to melt down quickly after a response. Midday gobblers are known to waste no time closing in on a hen.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

 

 

Image 11 of 13

Shade

Image 12 of 13

12 | Shade

Sunshine and warmth affects a gobbler’s midday position. During the heat of the day, the cool, shady side of a field or timber edge is a good place to glass and listen for gobblers to sound off.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

Image 12 of 13

More Turkeys

Image 13 of 13

13 | More Turkeys

Want more turkeys and turkey hunting?

More Realtree turkey hunting. Follow us on Facebook.

© Tes Randle Jolly photo

Image 13 of 13

Spring breeding season for wild turkeys is a stressful time, especially for dominant gobblers. Most of a gobbler’s energy is focused on displaying, gathering hens, breeding and battling rivals. As the season wears on, hens enter the egg-laying period. Gobblers are left to spend a portion of the midday hours alone or with other toms.

Click through the gallery to learn more about a gobbler’s midday behavior.