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Hens Are Trouble

Copyright © 1998 - 2002  Roger W. Raisch * Nadine Adele, all rights reserved


Probably the biggest problem turkey hunters face, but one that many aren't aware of as it is occurring, is that hens are with the gobbler. 

It's unrealistic to expect to call him away from the real thing.   When he has been answering your calling, suddenly shuts up and doesn't appear in the next 30 minutes, chances are good that you have competition from hens. 

Hens with gobblers will always spell trouble for even the most experienced hunters.


The hens will even actively work to defeat your calling

I have often watched hens feeding peacefully with a gobbler in a field promptly walk away when I began calling, taking the gobbler with them.  My calling can't be that bad!  These seem to be deliberate acts, as if the hen didn't want to share the attention of the gobbler.  There was no indication that they were about to leave before my calling started.


Actually, any other turkey with a gobbler is "one turkey too many". 

I have watched plenty of gobblers (two or more together) in the open go into strut to each other, with no hens present, and refuse to move to my calling position. 

I have also watched gobblers that were coming to me get intercepted by another gobbler, only to have all of them walk away ignoring my calls. 

Gobblers are unpredictable, but you can be fairly certain that if they have hens they won't leave them to look for you in the brush.


So, what can be done?

A couple of SECRETS work sometimes, but not always. 

If you direct your calling to the hens they may become curious or irritated enough to come investigate.  Call loud and aggressively, and concentrate on commanding calls like Cutts, Cackles, and long strings of Yelps

If a hen answers your calls, come back with the same call she makes, except make it a bit longer and louder---more intense.

If you can get the hens talking and a bit curious, they will often start coming your way, but it may take them quite some time to make the trip.   The gobbler(s) will usually tag along.  Often, a lot of calling is required before they start coming your way and they will have your position pinpointed. 

When the hens get close, stop calling so they will pass by or stay in front of you and resume their contented behavior. 

But, also be prepared for them to walk right into your lap, since you've been doing so much calling they know right where you are.

If a hen spots you and starts Putting nervously the gobbler will disappear like a ghost. 

If he is close when the hens spook, you will only have an instant to shoot when he comes out of strut.  Your shot will only be a good one if you had your gun on him as he approached.  You'll not be able to jerk the gun up and have a good shot, because you'll be shooting at tail feathers flying or running away at top speed.


With enough scouting both before season and during season, you should have a good idea about where flocks and gobblers are likely to be at different times of the day. 

Try to position yourself in these strategic locations before the hens and gobblers arrive. 

Then with patient calling, a few decoys set out, and a lot of luck, the entire flock may just move right past where you are

With enough scouting these Spring Behavior patterns can be determined.


If you find that most gobblers you locate are with hens and they won't come to your calling, you might want to try a desperation tactic that is similar to fall hunting. 

Roost the flock, make the bird gobble, then wait a full 20 minutes and slip quietly between the gobbler and his hens. 

Flush him and the other birds, noting the direction they flew.  Based on their direction of flight and the location of likely nearby Strut Zones, you should be able to predict where the gobbler will go the next morning to gather his harem.  He is likely to return to a strut zone near the roost, especially if you set up there the next morning and call aggressively. 

Use long strings of Cutts, a few Cackles, and plenty of lonesome, lost Yelps and  Assembly Yelping.


Don't give up on gobblers with hens....consider it a great challenge...because it is!


Subjects in the Secrets Library
About Turkeys
Spring Hunting Tactics
Fall Hunting Tactics
Camouflage & Concealment
Turkey Calls & Calling
Check List & Misc.
Bow Hunting Tactics
Safety & Ethics
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