Although we are thick into the all-day spring gobbler hunting season, it has not received wide acceptance yet.
Gobblers are not so interested in breeding anymore, ticks are bad, foliage is so thick a hunter cannot see very far around and most hunters are disgusted with the extended season.
Many think that giving us more nonproductive hours to hunt was a move made to pacify hunters who really want the season to start a week or two earlier than it does.
According to Mary Jo Casalena, turkey biologist for the Game Commission, an earlier starting date is not likely to happen anytime soon.
"Season dates are set according to what is good for the turkey and not what is convenient for the hunter," Casalena told me.
But hunting the last two weeks in May is hard, harder than usual. Now foliage is more lush than usual, especially this year. Foliage was thicker than usual on opening day, brought on by the warm winter and early spring. Thick foliage muffles sound, and if there is any wind at all to go with it, one can hardly hear a bird gobble from any distance. Just finding a spot from which you could see a gobbler if you do call it in is also a problem.
So the rest of this year's season (it ends May 31) will be the toughest of the year. Casalena said that the harvest during the extended hunting hours part of the season was only 6 percent of the total harvest last season. Fifty-five percent of the gobblers harvested during the month-long season are taken before 9 a.m. That's no surprise to any gobbler hunter.
During the heat of the day, most gobblers seem to be lazy and quiet and not responsive to a hunter's calls. However, things usually get a little livelier in the late afternoon but many hunters simply don't have the time or the starch to sit around in the woods all day long, waiting for a bird to decide to gobble. Most gobbler hunting is done during the morning hours.
The only thing that helps me in the long wait is to know the country, know where turkeys generally hang out and to put up my one-man chair blind, have water and snacks with me, and be ready to wait it out. This situation calls for that legendary turkey hunter's patience and frankly, most do not have enough of that.
Since we do know that turkeys will stay on a certain ridge or hollow if not unduly disturbed, waiting for them to return from their feeding rounds is a good tactic. My buddy, Teresa Patterson of Hollidaysburg bagged a nice gobbler during the extended hours last year; in fact, it was a bit after 5 p.m. The bird never gobbled back to her calls and she did not know he was anywhere around but suddenly, there he was, obviously looking for her, and she nailed him.
The plus side to afternoon hunting is that for those gobblers still looking for love, they can be fired up quickly because their hens they consort with every morning left them in mid morning to go to their nest. If they hear a sexy hen calling in the late afternoon, they may be very interested and the process of persuading them to the gun does not take long. Especially if the "afternoon" hen makes him think it is the hen he heard from afar earlier that morning but didn't seek out because he wouldn't leave the hens that were right with him.
Very often, a gobbler will make his way back to the location where he heard one in the morning in the hope she is still there. When he hears her calls he is instantly inflamed and the game is on.
Another good tactic is the one hunters use in the fall seasons, that is, if you locate in your travels a fresh roost site, chances are good they will return to that roost that evening. If you are set up, camouflaged and waiting, the whole bunch may just walk right up to you.