- 3 Turkey Activities To Track with GoWild’s Near Me Feature
3 Turkey Activities To Track with GoWild’s Near Me Feature
By: Paul Campbell | Host of How To Hunt Turkey & The Ohio Outdoors (O2) Podcasts
In the world we live in today, collecting data and information on a variety of topics is commonplace. Companies collect an array of data on everyone on the planet and generate suggestions from that data and make recommendations about all sorts of products and places we might like to visit or buy. Data collection is a fundamental part of life. As hunters, we can collect all of the data available to us. But, the decisions that we make with that data are what is important. One key feature of GoWild is the little icon in the top right-hand corner of the app. It looks like a radar. If you haven’t clicked that icon before, finish reading this article and click on it. A new world will be opened for you! The Near Me feature on GoWild is a game changer in terms of data collection and how we as Turkey hunters can use that data and make smart, informed decisions with that information. Near Me will show you GoWild posts from other community members that are…near you. As we march forth into Turkey Season and members post their Turkey hunting experiences we can use those posts to see how the season is unfolding in our area.
To fully understand what points we as hunters need to be looking for and posting about, let's unpack the Turkey season as a whole from the biological perspective of what Turkeys are doing as the season progresses and the rough time of those important factors during the Turkey breeding cycle.
Turkeys have a breeding cycle phase just like Whitetail Deer. Peaks and valleys of the cycle are driven by Hens, weather, and hunting pressure. Gobbling research has shown a precipitous drop in Gobbling activity on the day that hunting season starts. Toms know we are there! If we think of the “bell curve” from the Deer rut we all know about, Pre-Peak-Post rutting activity. Spring Turkey hunting seasons across the country begin on the downward side of that bell curve, allowing the Turkeys to have completed a majority of the breeding before hunters enter the woods. This ensures the potential for good hatches of poults. As Deer hunters, if I told you that you could only hunt after the rut, that would change the game for everyone. As Turkey hunters, there is still a ton of activity from all three phases going on when we get into the woods. Let’s break down the season and focus on three key data points that we can share posts about on GoWild and what information we can look for from our fellow GoWild buddies.
Turkey Winter Flock Transition
Turkeys are pack animals. They are social creatures that enjoy the company of other Turkeys until the breeding starts. A group of Toms will be friends one day and the next day at each other’s throats battling to establish the hierarchy for the upcoming breeding season. During the winter it is common to see massive flocks of Toms, Jakes, and Hens all grouped up. I’ve seen flocks of well over 100 Turkeys just before Spring arrives. Lekking is the process the Toms go through to determine the breeding order. When this process starts, usually at the tail end of winter just before Spring, the flocks will start to split and you may observe flocks with fewer mature Toms in the mix. This is a good sign that breeding season is getting close. For adults that are bringing a kid into the Turkey woods, that season usually falls right into the “peak” of the breeding season in many states. As you drive around your Turkey hunting areas keep an eye out for how many Toms you see in big feeding flocks of Turkeys in the open and document those observations on GoWild. It has been my experience that in the early part of the hunting season if the weather turns cold and wintery again the flocks with Toms and Hens will form again for a few days. I’m sure there is a biological reason for this that someone smarter than I am can explain. When that happens it makes for interesting hunting. Focus on the large food sources until the weather breaks. Knowing the flock structure as the opening day of hunting season can be a crucial piece of data to help you and other GoWild members determine the first few days of hunting.
The Turkey Breeding Cycle
Any seasoned Turkey hunter can tell you how hopeless a feeling it is to watch a Tom you’ve been calling to and hunting for hours just walk off with a Hen that strolls by between you and him. If you’re a new Turkey hunter, your time is coming. Just deal with it. The breeding cycle of Turkeys can last into the summer months. Nest disruptions can create a frantic desire for Hens to continue to breed. As hunters, we can exploit this by simulating the Hen's desire to breed, but we also have to deal with the Boss Hen wrecking our hunts from time to time. The natural order of things dictates that the Hen will go to a Gobbling Tom. That isn’t happening with us! As the breeding of Hens fluctuates on the downside of that Turkey breeding bell curve the hunting and interactions with Gobbling Toms can intensify on any given day. A quiet hunting day might explode the following day as a few Hens in the area might be searching for Toms to breed with. Those are the days us Hunters live for. Posting on GoWild about the number of Hens you interact with, and what they are doing in terms of movement and calling activity is valuable data to collect and talk about. Hens run the show in the Turkey woods. Listening to them and understanding what phase of the breeding cycle they are in is a good way to judge where you need to be as a hunter. Some of the best hunting I have experienced has been during the final week of the Turkey Season in Ohio.
Tom Gobbling Activity
I love hunting the fly down in the morning. Toms and Hens are incredibly vocal on the limb. Toms have been getting wound up overnight and in the early morning and can be at their most vulnerable the first few minutes of legal hunting light. They can also be surrounded by Hens that you have to compete with. Many times Tom will gobble nonstop on the limb for an hour and as soon as his feet hit the ground he shuts up. Many Turkey hunters will get discouraged by the silent woods from first light until 10 am or so and head back to the house. For the second shift hunters, many of us know the woods come alive again in mid-morning. Gobbling picks up in the late morning hours many times. I have my theories as to why, based solely on observation, not on science or research. One theory is the fact that the woods clear out of hunting pressure. People aren’t walking through the woods scratching on a box call or owl hooting. The birds feel more relaxed and might let a gobble slip out more often. The other school of thought from old-school Turkey hunters is that the Hens hit the ground, feed, breed, and then hit the nests. This leaves Ol’ Love struck Tom all fired up with nowhere to go. In my experience, this reaction from nesting Hens leaving Toms can swing throughout the day. I’ve had silence all morning and then at 2 in the afternoon, there are Turkeys gobbling everywhere. Capturing the times that Turkeys start the second shift of gobbling is a great way to determine when you start your hunt. With work and family obligations many of us have limited time to hunt throughout the week or on weekends. If I have 5 hours to hunt on a Saturday I want to maximize those 5 hours and be in the woods during the times with the most potential of interacting with a Tom. Posting about gobbling activity and basing your hunting times around those peak hours is a great way to maximize your time in the woods.
There are no hard fast rules for hunting Spring Turkeys. They can be the most frustrating game animal to hunt. As we march forth into another Turkey Season, I hope you find yourself listening more, collecting more data in the woods than you have in the past and sharing that information on GoWild, and looking to the community to find valuable information. Good luck hunting in your corner of the Country this Spring.