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Strut Report: Late-Season Gobbler Action on Fire in Northern States

Strut Report: Late-Season Gobbler Action on Fire in Northern States

Posted 2024-05-21  by  Darron McDougal

During the final weeks of the 2024 turkey season, northern hunters are reporting nesting hens and very receptive gobblers

If you read last week’s Strut Report, you might recall that Melissa Bachman reported tough hunting in South Dakota. From high winds to jake groups running off toms as they worked toward the decoys, she was dealt a poor hand. That all changed a few days ago.

Bachman said they called in a lone tom during an afternoon hunt. “Everything worked out perfectly,” she said. “We finally had a good day for calling. He gobbled as he came in on a string to the calls. I couldn’t have asked for a better hunt. The weather was hot, but we made the most of our time and got it done.”

Image: Bachman_SD_Tom

Melissa Bachman arrowed this big gobbler during an afternoon hunt in South Dakota last week.

Back in Michigan, Ryan Boyer, the NWTF’s district biologist for Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, said that toms should be equally responsive for folks still packing Michigan or Ohio Northeast Zone turkey tags.

“I’m seeing a lot of adult gobblers alone,” he detailed. “Just this morning, while taking my son to school, I saw four different lone toms out in fields. I also saw a few lone hens out in fields, which were likely on nest breaks and out bugging. Throughout much of the state, we’re at the point where a lot of hens have been bred and are incubating nests or in the process of laying eggs.

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“We’re not seeing the same level of breeding activity we did, let’s say, a month ago,” he continued. “But the adult males are still out looking, displaying and covering lots of ground, which creates a lot of opportunities for hunters. There’s a good chance that if you can find an adult gobbler on his own, he’ll be responsive and come in. Of course, call and decoy responsiveness can vary based on the amount of pressure the birds have been exposed to.”

Boyer also noted that hunters are reporting seeing strong jake numbers in the states he oversees, and he said that Indiana had a strong season with a harvest that, once tallied, could be the second-highest on record, which is very encouraging.

In Wisconsin, my observations have been more sporadic. Last week, my wife and I saw a group of eight toms strutting with a few hens in a small field along a roadway. And while a lot of hens are nesting and leaving gobblers on their own, I hunted and killed a gobbler with six hens in a zone I hadn’t previously hunted this season.

The first morning, I tried a jake decoy and two hen decoys. The hens came in, but the tom circled wide before meeting back up with the hens out of range. The second morning, I sat in the same place, but I put out four hen decoys, including an Avian-X Laydown Hen. That day, two jakes were with the flock. My decoy spread brought in the entire flock, and I shot the gobbler off the Laydown Hen decoy at 14 yards. Removing my jake decoy from the mix proved effective.

Levi Johnson of Doggin’ With Levi weighed in from Montana. “Turkey action is getting good now,” Johnson said. “The hens are leaving toms around mid-morning, and a few hunters have been killing birds. Decoys are working, and the toms are coming to calls. My buddy shot a nice tom this weekend.”

Image: Virga_NYTom

Realtree pro Anthony Virga just wrapped up his season with a big New York gobbler. He says next week, the final week of season, could be the best one of the year.

Realtree pro-staffer Anthony Virga said that his season in the Northeast is winding down. “It’s my favorite part of the season,” he explained. “I spent the last few days in New York. I’m seeing gobblers alone and hens alone feeding and nesting. Gobbling activity has been noticeably better late in the mornings (with better weather conditions). I predict that this final week will be great. Late in the morning and into the early afternoon (where legal), chances are good to strike a gobbler and pull him in.”

Well, that’ll do it for 2024 Strut Reports. Bringing you all of the latest turkey info throughout the season has been a pleasure. Lord willing, I look forward to doing it again in 2025, but for now, good luck to those of you still chasing spring thunder!

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