I’ve seen many reports on the Gobbler Watch lately from Missouri-especially the southern portion. Most are seeing the
same thing. Lots of lone toms with hens and good gobbling activity with some birds even gobbling through mid morning. This area is likely experiencing the first gobbling peak and start of the breeding season.
I also received this report from NWTF Biologist Ricky Lackey in Florida.
“I have been bouncing around central and south Florida over the last week or so and wanted to give you an update. From my observations and from other reports I have received, the breeding cycle is a bit early and almost over it seems for this year with the early warm up. There are a gluttony of single hens off nesting or laying and toms are not gobbling much, especially after fly down. If you catch a tom lonely off the roost, he’s as good as dead, but after the first hour it’s been tough, zero gobbling. I have not seen nor heard of any afternoon success over the last week. Things are a bit different in the north part of the state/ panhandle, a bit like much of Georgia with toms being a bit henned up.”
Tip: There are two times where gobbler activity are highest throughout the spring. The first and second gobbling peaks. The first peak begins when flocks break up and gobblers are rounding up the hens in their spring range. This can last about a week before the toms become henned up and far less vocal. The second peak occurs after the hens begin nesting (on the back half of the breeding season). If you want to hunt gobbling birds, these are the two time frames to target in an area.
1st Peak: During the first gobbling peak gobblers are unpressured for the most part. They are desperately seeking the first available hens in their area and will respond to aggressive calling. You won’t usually hear me say to call often to turkeys but if your going to do it, now is the time.
2nd Peak: Gobblers are seeking hens again and can be very vocal. The catch here is that he’s been hunted now for several weeks in some cases. Later in the season, he’ll be less apt to running in to a turkey call. Getting tight to these birds, calling soft, and scratching in the leaves is a great move. Many times I’ll get as close as possible before making a setup. Then I’ll call until he answers me and shut up and scratch in the leaves. This technique has killed more turkeys for me during this time frame than any other.
From these reports, it sounds like toms are reaching their first gobbling peak in places like Southern Missouri, Southern Illinois, and Kentucky. Based on what Ricky tells us, the gobblers in South Florida are nearing the end of the second gobbling peak. If your planning to take vacation this spring, keep a close eye on the Gobbler Watch page where we’ll bring you current updates from your area. Try to time it right with these gobbling peaks and you’ll have a better hunt.