null Skip to Main Content
Strut Report: Gobblers Are Playing the Game in the Northeast, While Western Birds are Henned-Up

Strut Report: Gobblers Are Playing the Game in the Northeast, While Western Birds are Henned-Up

Posted 2024-05-14  by  Darron McDougal

While high winds and henned-up toms are making for challenging hunts out West, midwestern and northeastern gobblers are practically reading the script

Image: NO_turkey_strut

Eager toms are creating exciting hunts in the Northeast, while hunters in the West are struggling to call in henned-up birds. (Photo by Tes Jolly)

It was an epic turkey-hunting week in central Wisconsin. Last Wednesday morning, I joined a friend on his first-ever turkey hunt. We set up beneath a small roosted flock, and the gobbling action was hot. A few tree yelps coaxed a nearby gobbler to land amidst our two decoys. He was strutting and sizing up my jake decoy when my friend took him.

Thursday afternoon, I was bowhunting on my own land when I called a hen to my decoys. Three toms came in behind my blind, and I couldn’t open the back window. They saw but didn’t come to my feeding and breeding-pose hen decoys, and they reconnected with the live hen out of range and moved off.

Don’t Miss: Finding Strut Zones, The Key To Late-Season Turkey Hunting

The following morning, the birds didn’t start gobbling until it was beginning to crack daylight. I hustled to a blind that I had preset in the hardwoods near their roost. The two toms were gobbling pretty well as I set my decoys, answering a few of my tree yelps and then flying down. I began calling and scratching leaves, and they fired up and came in hot. I shot the strutter, a limb-hanger, right off my jake decoy.

The following morning, I hit some public land in another zone with my shotgun. I located five or more gobblers that were hammering from the roost and also after fly down. They gobbled at my calls for 30 minutes or so, but then they shut off completely, which probably meant they got with hens. I moved on, pausing every 200 yards to call and listen. A mile or more away, I found another gobbling tom at about 6:30 a.m. He was alone and gobbling every 10-15 seconds.

Image: Brad_Harris_Wyoming

Birds out west have been henned-up, so game-calling expert Brad Harris got positioned in front of a small flock of traveling Black Hills birds and was able to call them in. (Photo courtesy of Brad Harris)

I positioned myself on a hardwood ridge and began calling. Meanwhile, a lone hen not 100 yards away fired up, and we exchanged a few words, though she never appeared. The tom soon came looking for her, but she was nowhere to be seen or heard, so his interest turned toward my calling. I called softly, then paused to let his curiosity build. Soon, he came looking, and the old bird with 1 3/8-inch spurs was mine.

Don’t Miss: The Art of Asking Permission To Turkey Hunt

Meanwhile, longtime hunter and game-calling expert Brad Harris and his nephew, Eli, found success in Wyoming’s Black Hills. “Spring is late in coming this year,” Harris explained. “Turkeys are in the middle of their breeding cycle. Toms are still henned-up big time all day. It seems like most of the gobblers I’m hunting are older birds. There aren’t many 2-year-olds. However, I’m seeing plenty of jakes.

“My tom was with seven hens and 10 jakes,” Harris continued. “I got positioned in their general line of march, and I called the group right to me. I also called in five hens, two jakes and a longbeard in the same way for Eli.”

Image: Hosie_StrutReport2

Nate Hosie of HeadHunters TV said that the New York turkeys were “working right” in the hardwoods despite rainy conditions when he collected this nice gobbler. (Photo courtesy of Nate Hosie)

Winchester Deadly Passion’s Melissa Bachman reported difficult hunting in South Dakota.

“Our family hunted all last week,” she said. “We’re seeing way, way fewer birds than usual, and the birds we’re finding seem to be grouped up. We’ve called in several toms, but jake groups have run them off as they got close. We’ve had this happen four times, and the gobblers have been too scared to return. We were fighting 50-mph winds most of last week along with rain, which didn’t help either.”

Similar to the Midwest, Nate Hosie of HeadHunters TV said that things have been rocking in the timber out east.

“Pennsylvania was awesome,” he said. “Although the weather was tough at times, the turkeys gobbled hard and worked well. Friends Randy Birdsong and Stephen Phillips were able to fill their tags, and I punched one as well. New York was the same. I headed out with my buddy Matt Patrella on a rainy morning, but the rain was light enough that turkeys were still gobbling. We had two awesome hunts together. Overall, I feel that the season is only going to keep getting better.”

Exit off-canvas