Tom turkey dilemma: henned up and (almost) hopeless

Henned-up toms can make the early seasons tough. The best bet for success oftentimes involves skipping the sunrise sit to spend some blind time during the midday.

Back when we first started hunting turkeys in Minnesota, we had a five-day season. Even worse, we also had a noon closure. Drawing one of the coveted early-season permits usually took a couple of years. Eventually I just started applying for the last season so that I could hunt each spring instead of playing the waiting game.

The general perception then was that earlier was always better, and that still applies today for many folks. I’m not one of them, however. I love to hunt turkeys whenever I can, but I almost think it’s easier to run into a gobbler willing to play the game in May than during April.

This is because April is full of henned-up toms. Now, plenty of birds will eat a load of 5s in April this spring and every spring after. But I also know that it can be a frustrating time to hunt. This is especially true during the early-morning hours when they gobble nonstop, but won’t commit because they’ve woken up with their girlfriends.

My strategy for the early seasons is to hunt during the midday and the afternoons as much as possible. It seems like an awful lot of those smitten longbeards give up on their chosen ladies as the day progresses and move on to find some new companionship.

If you find yourself frustrated in the immediate hours after sunrise because gobblers will talk at you but won’t walk your way, consider either sleeping in one morning for a banker-hours hunt, or sticking it out all day. Eventually you’ll probably run into a lonely longbeard that will commit to your calling.

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