hunting turkey toms

Hunting Boss Toms

Grant Woods |

Last week I shared about the different stages of the turkey-breeding season. Toms go through a period of establishing dominance similar to whitetail bucks. About the time that gobblers establish some stability in the dominance hierarchy and begin separating from large flocks into smaller groups of immature and medium aged toms and even single mature toms, some hens begin becoming receptive.

hunting boss tomsUnlike does, hens often breed every day for 10+ days. Hens will often remain in groups and be tended to by a dominate tom. This is very similar to elk’s breeding behavior.

During the peak of the turkey-breeding cycle, boss toms are often with a flock of hens. Both heard bull elk and boss toms often are not very vocal. They simply don’t need to be as they are already with females.

This is why it’s often easier to tag a satellite bull elk (immature and medium maturity) than it is the herd bull or boss tom.

A good strategy to tag a boss tom is to locate where he’s likely to roost and slip in very close before daylight – hopefully getting between him and the flock of hens he’s tending.

If I can’t get close to or don’t know where a boss tom is roosting, I often spend the first hour or two listening and try to determine where the tom will go to strut with his flock. Calling aggressively during this phase of the turkey breeding cycle may result in bringing in satellite toms, but rarely a boss tom as he’s with hens.

hunting tomsAn hour or two after fly down, I like to get in front of the flock if it’s moving or get close to the flock if it’s at a strut area and try to call the hens. The boss tom will stay with his hens. If the hens respond to the calls the boss tom will likely follow. Patience is often the key when using this strategy as the boss tom will often tag behind the flock of hens.

I consider tagging a boss tom a true trophy! This year try hunting boss toms like herd bulls and enjoy the challenge! It may mean passing up some satellite toms, but the experience and thrill may be well worth the challenge.

Growing and enjoying wildlife together, Grant

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