HUNT THE EVENING

Outdoor Life - - FEATURES - —T.C.

THIS SPRING, 36 of the 49 states that have spring turkey sea­sons will al­low hunters to shoot un­til sun­set. A decade ago, that count was 21. Clearly, we’re get­ting over old­fash­ioned hang-ups about evening hunt­ing harm­ing turkey pop­u­la­tions.

But morn­ing gob­blers and evening gob­blers re­quire two very dif­fer­ent ap­proaches. And the wrong kind of evening hunt­ing pres­sure can push tur­keys away from pre­ferred roost sites and out of your hunt­ing ter­ri­tory. Put the fol­low­ing con­sid­er­a­tions to work and shoot a gobbler as the sun heads to­ward the hori­zon.

start early You wouldn’t get to your morn­ing spot late. Give your af­ter­noon hunt a sim­i­lar ef­fort and be sure you are in place well be­fore the birds show up. A spring day is long. Hun­gry birds come out to feed early. Spring gob­blers get hun­gry, and they feed hard in the af­ter­noon and evening. Set up three to four hours be­fore sun­set.

give them room Don’t hunt di­rectly un­der roost trees. In­stead, hang back along travel routes or at feed­ing areas, where birds are go­ing to be while shooting light re­mains. Tur­keys re­turn­ing to the roost will of­ten just re­verse the same route they took out in the morn­ing. Set up in a spot slightly above travel routes, where you have good vis­i­bil­ity and a wide shooting lane.

build a hide Get set for a long wait. Build a blind from nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, use cam­ou­flage fab­ric, or erect a popup tent. Evening birds are jit­tery, sus­pi­cious, and ul­tra-alert. A good hide pro­vides some for­give­ness if you stretch or make an er­rant move­ment.

pipe down Hens and gob­blers alike of­ten aren’t much in­ter­ested in breed­ing—or talk­ing about it—late in the day. No call­ing at all may be best. If you do call, use only the soft­est clucks and whis­pery yelps. Sound car­ries far in the evening.

run an in­ter­cep­tion Okay, so this one isn’t low-im­pact. But in the prairie states and open areas of the West, use the late af­ter­noon and evening to glass from van­tage points. Once you’ve spot­ted a mov­ing flock, drop into a par­al­lel drainage to sneak ahead, come over the top, and in­ter­cept them.

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