Blog from Tyler Jordan.
Just because a bird has gone silent, especially late in the season, doesn’t mean the bird has spooked or is gone. Numerous times I’ve had birds travel silently and you have to pay close attention to the spit, drum and strut, but no gobble. They do this a lot through the year and it’s a good time to plan your attack.
Find a strut zone. Strutting is an instinctive behavior and is used by gobblers to show their dominance in front of females in the hopes of possibly stimulating a breeding session. I’ve never actually used the term “strut zones” while out in the woods or talked to someone about it. Maybe I consider it a writer’s term. But, I would say most veteran turkey hunters believe there are certain areas gobblers visit more frequently than others.
Look for Clues
Some of the best places I’ve had success looking for strut zones are field corners and slight rises on logging roads. These are both open areas where long beards can strut in plain sight of nearby hens. Finding feathers, droppings and drag marks are also often key indicators.
Most turkeys strut anywhere they please, but look for places that have good sunlight and are open enough where a tom can see possible oncoming turkeys or danger. From my experience, when myself or other hunters consider a bird to be hung up, they are probably just choosing not to leave their strutting zone where hens are probably at, too.
How to Approach
I remember working a pair of gobblers in Alabama that strutted on the end of a knoll for a little over two hours. I knew this because we’ve hunted and were familiar with this particular area. They responded to calls, but wouldn’t budge. I waited until the gobbler turned his tail feathers toward me before I made the move with the fan to get closer. As soon as they both turned toward me, they lifted their heads up for a brief second before coming on a dead sprint. I was able to get my gun shouldered before taking one of them at 30 yards.
If you don’t get there first, it might be nearly impossible to get that bird to inch away from his zone. Gobblers that frequently visit these strut zones usually tend to do so late in the morning and/or late in the evening, although they could anytime during the day also.
Quiet calling, including low clucks and purrs, is the best way to lure in one of these toms. Give that bird that just needs a little more convincing the impression there is a hen close to his zone. Once you do this, look for that bird to put on a strutting show, spinning his way right into your shotgun’s sight.