Many turkey hunters pursue longbeards all day long in states where legal. When turkey hunters spend the entire day trying to kill a mature tom it is important that they schedule their time to make every minute spent in the woods count. If you are a planning a morning hunt, would rather sleep in and try to catch a tom off-guard during a mid-morning hunt, or are still in search of a bird as roosting time approaches there are different tactics that hunters need to use throughout the day.
Get to a high ridge, field edge or a logging road before dawn and do not do anything but listen. It should be a place that will allow you to hear turkeys that are off in the distance, as well as close to where you are. When toms choose a tree to roost in it will more than likely be in an area where they can see hens, along with any danger that might also be around. Potential spots are tall trees that offer a view of fields, swamps that have small islands, and open timber ridges.
At first light, listen for a tom to gobble. If everything is quiet use a single-note owl hoot followed by a louder eight-note owl call to entice a gobbler to give his location away with a shock gobble. Use the owl call several times and listen between callings before you move 100 yards or so to repeat the process. If your owl call is not getting a reaction from the toms, try using a coyote call, or an elk bugle to get a shock gobble from a mature bird.
When a gobbler lets you know where he is, find a tree 75 to 100 yards away from the tom and quietly set up. The tree needs to be wide enough to hide your outline. After things have settled down, give a couple of soft yelps. Do not call too often as this might keep the tom roosted.
When you hear or see the gobbler fly down yelp a couple of more times. If he talks back to you immediately and gobbles as he works his way towards you do not do anything but purr a few times to keep him interested. If the tom heads the other direction then you can use aggressive yelps and cutts to turn him around. As he gets closer to your set up lay down the calls to keep from being spotted. Let the tom do the work.
Around nine or ten in the morning the hens will leave the gobblers to nest. Hunters can expect to a few gobbles up until the hens leave. The best thing a hunter can do is walk a circle around the property that he is hunting, stopping to call every 100 yards or so trying to find a gobbler that is still with hens. You want to shock a tom into gobbling. Instead of using an owl hoot, use a loud crow call. A box call, or slate call can also be used to make loud, sharp cutts to get a gobbler talking.
Search pastures, fields and food plots mid-morning and get out the binoculars to look for gobblers that are strutting hens that have not went to nest yet. If you see a tom, get to a place that is in his line of travel, or to a place where you can call him in from and set up. If you are in an open area, set up where tracks and droppings have been spotted. This is a likely spot for you to find turkeys. Another good place to search is in wooded areas along logging roads, abandoned railroads and power-line rights of way. Get in a position that will allow you to stay comfortable for the next hour. Yelp and cutt every 15 to 20 minutes, keeping each calling session short. Stay alert for approaching toms. Listen for the rustle of leaves, and the pffffttt followed by a low dmmmmm of a strutting tom.
If nothing else has worked up until now, and you had a bird leave you after fly down, return to that spot to call. A tom that does not have any hens with him might return to the spot where he heard a hen near his roost.
The hens are nesting by now and the toms are out cruising around, or maybe just hanging out in the shade. Just like you did during your mid-day hunt, walking and calling, or searching open fields with a compact binocular are good tactics. Use the binoculars to search for toms in the shadows, as well as in the woods. Hopefully, you will see the tom before he sees you. If you spot a tom along the edge of a field, go through the woods to circle ahead of him and try to intercept him.
As the day comes to an end head back to the place where you started at first light, the roosting area. Most birds will continue to roost in the same place if they have not been disturbed. Put yourself along the path of travel that you expect birds to take back to their roost. Stay 100 yards away from the roosting area to prevent disturbance and call sparingly.
If the tom was roosted in a swamp bordered by a logging road, place yourself just off the bend in the trail. If the toms were roosted on a wooded ridge near a field, put you between the roosting site and the field. Two hens and a jake decoy will work best in front of your set up as you yelp and cutt every 15 to 20 minutes.
If a gobbler has his way he will roost near hens, but you would rather not let that happen. Listen to where the birds fly up. Well after dark or well before first light move in and scatter the birds. It is important that no light remains in the horizon. Going in and yelling before it is completely dark, or just as the sun is rising will more than likely cause all of the birds to fly towards the remaining light together. If you are able to get a good scatter the old tom will be gobbling like crazy as he tries to bring the hens back to him at first light. As soon as you hear him gobbling get close and make sure you are the first hen he hears. Scattering birds could almost be considered a fall hunting technique, but the tom will not like being alone. He will be anxious to join other birds as the sun somes up.
Turkeys are on the move all day long, and can be hunted with success all day long where legal. Hunting during fly up can be just as productive as hunting when the fly down from their roost. With an open mind and the willingness to change your techniques. As the day progresses you should have a day filled with excitement and success.