Ten and two is not just for teaching proper fly fishing technique anymore. Its quickly becoming the go to hunting time for taking difficult birds. Hunting wild turkeys in the middle of the day can be a hard sell to most avid spring time hunters. Asking an avid long beard chaser to sleep in during the magical moments of first light is pert near impossible, but that may be just the prescription needed to bag birds that just refuse to cooperate off the roost.
I consent that a big part of wild turkey hunting is hearing that most exciting and majestic of Mother Nature's sounds. In fact, to me, the thundering gobble of a mature Tom turkey is comparable to the bugle of the great western Elk. Therefore, I understand the great sense of accomplishment you get when you have done your homework and find yourself at the base of the right tree at the right time just as daylight breaks. In fact, finding yourself within a couple hundred yards of roosted birds will force your heart rate to climb as the anticipation of the first gobbles of the morning to grow in your mind.
As the old Mr Long Beard thunders his approval of your box call and his buddies up the ridge announce their second, your heart beats, your mouth dries, and your ears for the faint flap of wings as these large birds fly down from the surrounding trees. Then, you catch a glimpse of a fan out of the corner of your eye and, as you slowly turn your head, you confirm the presence of an old tom as you hear him drum. Then, sauntering into gun range, he fans his tail one last time, dragging his wings along the forest floor he pirouettes and boom! Collecting a load of number five shot, this lone, dominant, wild turkey struts his last strut!
Of course, that's the way we wish it would go every morning in the turkey woods. However, more often than not in the pursuit of turkeys, we sit in the right place and instead listen to those Spring time love calls fade off into the distance and as reality sets in, we know that ahead of us is a rafter of Hens leading those big Toms farther and farther away. Yet, even so, we call and plead on every contraption we have until we have exhausted every option but, its all to no avail. But, maybe its not our calling abilities, but rather our timing. Thus, a change in tactics may help turn the tide.
Therefore, assessing the situation is the first step to productive ten to two hunting. To be successful during the mid-day approach you must fight the urge to jump out of the truck and hit a call immediately. Instead, if you are in an open area, take the time to glass. Look closely around shaded areas because birds will tend to loaf and hang out in these shady areas during the middle of the day. If you have not found any birds, make your way to high ground and set up but, only call from a position where you can conceal yourself once you get a response. Also, Turkeys are known to be less vocal during the mid-day hours but, if a responsive bird is located, they can be aggressive and very quick on their feet. So, be ready for a bird to show up out of nowhere! On the other hand, for those hunters in the deep woods, glassing is not a viable option. So, instead make your way to high ground and listen for a period of time. Just as in open areas, you should call sparingly in the deep woods; listening for a long period of time after each calling session.
In addition, remember that during the spring, male Wild Turkeys are focused solely on creating and maintaining a harem of hens. The birds that are successful at this will protect these harems from other mature males and gangs of Jakes (immature male turkeys). These harem groups are always the problem for turkey hunters because, they are the ones that lead not only the dominant Toms away from our calling, but they also take the satellite males too. This is important to remember because female Wild Turkeys will mate with the dominate Tom tending the flock but, often times, satellite Toms along the edges of these flocks can sneak in and successfully bred an unattended hen; although most of this activity occurs from the initial fly-down part of the early morning until mid-morning when most of the hens have been bred and are no longer interested in courtship. So, once the Hens in the flock lose interest in the males, the boys go looking for love. Although this time when attending Toms go looking for love in all the wrong places is not an exact science, getting yourself in an area after the birds have gone through their normal morning routine can produce some fantastic hunting opportunities. So, next time you are frustrated by henned up long beards, give them a little break and come calling around ten oclock in the morning and see what you think.