Week three of Spring gobbler has finally arrived and the flocks are definitely changing their habits. The early part of the season has a tremendous amount of activity among the flocks as the toms are forming their harems and the hens are picking their nesting sites. These times, the toms are very eager to breed, but the hens aren’t having it. That’s what makes them thunderchickens so vulnerable when they hear a hunter mimicking the calls of a loving and receptive hen.
Well, usually by mid to late season each year, the hens will begin to breed. During that period, as we are experiencing now, the gobbling becomes minimal if not stopping altogether. When a big-daddy, boss tom flies down, he’s immediately surrounded by his harem, each being ready and willing to be bred. Lesser, younger, toms will hang around and circle the action in hopes of sneaking a hen here and there for themselves as the dominant toms tend the greater number of hens. It becomes quite problematic for turkey hunters because the gobblers have no reason to respond to their calling.
At this stage of their mating season, the hens are being bred daily. The girls have already prepared their nests and will begin laying one egg a day until they have a full clutch of eggs to sit and incubate. Each breeding fertilizes the next day’s egg. You see, the egg that a hen lays today will have been fertilized by her chosen mate, yesterday. This will continue for twelve to fifteen days. These times, the gobblers are vulnerable late morning and through the afternoon, as once he’s completed tending his harem, he will circle back quietly in search of any other receptive hens he hears calling out for his services.
It’s that quiet approach that saves many longbeard’s lives as hunters grow too impatient to wait him out and go on home before he silently arrives on scene, confused that the hen has disappeared. Times like these, as we surely are experiencing now, are quite frustrating to a turkey hunter. Very frustrating to me, as I’ve been quite proudly demonstrating my turkey calling skills with great success until very recently, having struck out more than I’ve been successful.
But, don’t think for a moment that the season is over. Very soon the hens will be beyond their breeding stage and will no longer need them old he-devil gobblers to tend them, as they begin sitting their nests to incubate their eggs. The toms? Well, they’re going to lose their minds! After a couple of weeks of constant loving, they will begin a new gobbling frenzy casting about in search of one more bit of tailfeather to target. Be in the woods. Become vocally, the hen he’s so desperate to find. And, if you do, the deck will be stacked in your favor against Mister Longbeard and he just may come around for a free ride home with you as the guest of honor at dinnertime.
As always, if you have any questions or a story you’d like to share, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] God bless and good hunting!