We’ve all been there. What started out feeling like a great gobbler morning is quickly crushed by silence. We patiently wait for that one vocal clue that dictates how we make our next move. Sometimes a little patience is all it takes before some lonely gobbler sounds off, but every spring I encounter a morning or two of complete silence. Not a peep! It feels like every gobbler has left the county. Yeah, you could pack up and head for the nearest cup of hot coffee, but if you want to tag a long beard here are four moves that can turn those silent mornings into success stories.
Run & Gun
This move takes lots of elbow room. If you’re blessed with hundreds of acres to hunt and you’re not worried about bumping birds off the property, covering ground as you listen and call can be a great tactic. Aggressive yelps and cuts can fire up tight lipped birds but until mid-morning I prefer to quietly cover ground while yelping into every new ridge and valley. You just might wander in tight enough to fire him up with a lonely hen call.
Slow & Steady
This is my go to tactic for silent mornings. You’ll bump less birds and if you have a limited amount of land to hunt, you can strategically cover it. Use your knowledge from past hunts and work the strut zones and travel corridors. Move slow and listen intently. Keep your calls softer and don’t over call. I’ll often use more clucks and just mix in a few soft yelps from time to time. Use the wind to help carry distant gobbles to you by approaching likely strut zones and feeding areas from downwind. If you feel a particular area looks to good not to have birds in it, stop and set up. I’ll often do this for 30 to 45 minutes before moving on. Be alert and ready for that long beard to approach silently.
Glass & Attack
Much of turkey country winds through farm land, pastures, meadows or even power line cuts. If you have room to roam, grab a good set of glass and use those binoculars to scan for strutters. Work from one likely strut zone to the next. When you find a gobbler you have a couple of choices. You can move in as close as you dare and try to pull him over with some sexy hen talk. Or you can pull out that tail fan and attack! Get in tight and then crawl right at him holding the tail fan out in front of you. It’s a ton of fun and some birds will either let you crawl right into gun range or come running to you. It doesn’t always work. I’ve had birds simply run away but it beats sipping coffee back at camp. Be extremely careful doing this as other hunters could mistake your tail fan for a real bird.
Likely the most successful method on tight lipped birds. When no gobbles are heard at first light try heading for a known feeding area or strut zone and play the patient game. Find a comfortable spot and one that allows you good visibility. A portable blind can make for a much more comfortable sit and really helps if you have a hunting partner with you. Call periodically but not too often. A couple decoys can be a big help. I prefer an aggressive jake with a hen. If you’ve done your scouting chances are pretty good that a silent long beard will eventually show himself.