With hunting season over for the Southern half of the United States and winding down in the northern reaches of the wild turkey’s range, for many turkey hunters, the next couple of weeks will be their last gasp to fill those final tags. If you’re one of the lucky band of brothers (and sisters) still trying to make magic, give these tips a try to put yourself in position for a shot.
Get Aggressive—Time for laying back and working a longbeard like a gentleman hunter has passed. Now you have to get ultra strategic and in that bird’s face. Spring leaf out is in full frenzy and the open woods of early spring are a thing of the past. While you have to remember that gobbling turkeys will sound farther away than they really are because the growth is muffling their sounds, you can slip in closer to a vocal tom due to the extra cover. Be careful, but take advantage of the obscured views to get inside 100 yards of a longbeard and work him the rest of the way, drumming him in if necessary or enticing him with a fan in the hand where safe and legal.
Go Heavy—Brush is busting out and grass and weeds are growing taller, tightening once open shooting lanes and making it easier for toms to remain obscured as they hang up and peer about looking for the hen they hope you are. If you’ve been shooting No. 6 loads for the pellet count, consider swapping them out for heavier No. 5s or even No. 4s if they pattern well from your gun. The heavier shot will maintain adequate pattern and penetration should you need to thread a shot through a tight spot in the brush, clipping leaves along the way. For example, a 3-inch Winchester Double X load packs 1¾ ounces of copper-plated hard shot and is a great option as is Winchester’s Xtended Range Hi-Density loads of high-density lead-free shot.
Go Long(er)—It’s late in the season and toms have heard everything hunters can throw at them. They’re getting call shy and will tend to hang up just out of range of more traditional shotgun loads or sometimes work their way close and then inexplicably lose interest. With a load like Winchester’s Long Beard XR, which is designed to improve patterns for denser down-range delivery, it’s now quite achievable to optain 10 and sometimes even 20 yards more of lethal pattern scatter. We all want to bring them in close, but sometimes if it’s only 5 or 10 yards more between you and victory…well, let’s just say most of us would opt for victory than giving a bird the pass.