Spring gobbler hunters may be well prepared for opening day, but the turkeys are not always ready to accommodate us. After being separated in same-sex groups for most of the winter, hens and gobblers mingle in early spring to sort out pecking orders prior to breeding—and they are often still at it when the season starts. So instead of working a single gobbler, you’re faced with a whole flock of turkeys.
This may seem like a blessing, but taking a bird from a flock is tougher than fooling a lone tom. It can be done, however, if you employ strategies used by fall turkey hunters, who face similar problems. Here are three tactics:
1. Get Close
Fall hunters spend a lot of time on their feet, sneaking along fencelines and terrain breaks. This is because flocked-up turkeys rarely travel far to investigate a call, requiring hunters to get as close to them as possible. If birds are congregated in spring, get within at least 100 yards before setting up to call.
2. Increase the Volume
Flocked-up birds will ignore subtle yelps and clucks. Call loudly and aggressively, trying to match the tone of the bossiest hen or lustiest gobbler you hear. Hard cutting, fighting purrs, and gobbling can pique a tom’s curiosity. Be -safety-conscious when using a gobbler call, as it can call in not only gobblers but fellow hunters. The safest bet is to use one only when you enjoy exclusive access.
3. Break Up the Birds
When the above tactics fail, scatter the flock. This classic fall strategy works now, too. It’s best to bust the birds off the roost, before dawn or in the evening. Wander noisily under roosted birds, yelling and banging on trees with a stick. After the birds fly off, they’ll be eager to reassemble. This can also work at midday, if you can sneak close enough to panic birds into a broad dispersal. Set up and wait until the first birds start talking before joining in with long, loud hen yelps. And be ready to pick out a bird with a beard.