Gobbling Reports And Georgia Turkey Season Update
GON Hunt Advisor reports and gobbler gallery from the 2020 Georgia turkey season.
Based on reports we’re hearing from across the state, it’s been a memorable turkey season in Georgia, to say the least. Many hunters had extra time in the woods because of the virus, lots of kids got more time in the woods with schools closed, and it seems like there were plenty of birds to hunt for the first time in quite a while.
Here are the reports from GON’s team of Hunt Advisors.
Bartow County: Greg Grimes, of Ball Ground, reports, “We picked up some new land that we manage right on the Etowah River. It is the best turkey land I’ve ever had the rights to hunt. In the early season, I was able to call a big tom up on top of a ridge not long after flying down from the roost. In mid April, we were able to get my youngest son Gordon his first gobbler as we had three come in to our blind setup. The other two hung around, so I got my second one of the season, and then we just watched and enjoyed the third one gobble and strut for the next 30 minutes. We couldn’t ask for more.
“In late April we took the landowner on her first ever turkey hunt along with her son. We had great action, but she missed the gobbler as it was probably a little too far for the 20 gauge. Later that morning we came close to getting her son one, as well. That experience made two future hunters that day for sure, and they hope to get out again before the season closes.
“Being around a larger flock of turkeys definitely allows you the opportunity to learn and gain confidence in your calling. We are starting to figure out some movement patterns, as well.
“For the month of May, I definitely anticipate less gobbling, as the gobbling season seemed to have started a little earlier this year. We will use less calling and more patience and utilize the open fields and do more observation hunts. There is still some time to add to the wild game dinner table.”
Cherokee County: Tim Dangar, of Ball Ground, reports, “This season has been amazing even with the month of April being cold, wet and windy. I have not been in the woods without at least hearing or seeing birds. I have been blessed to hunt more this year due to everything being shut down because of COVID-19. It’s not hard to social distance in the north Georgia mountains. The turkey population is doing well, and with as many hens as I’ve seen singled out looking for a place to nest, next year should be good also. Gobbling has been sporadic, with cold mornings being the norm in north Georgia. While talking about gobbling, I will offer some advise. I carry two calls in the woods with me, a glass call for soft to medium calling and a box call for blasting the woods loud. One morning I was hunting and had heard nothing. Around 8 a.m., I decided to give the old box call a blast. My grandson quickly said, ‘Did you hear that?’ I responded no, which was a response he was accustom to, due to my 69-year-old ears. After a few minutes went by, I gave another blast. This time I did hear the gobbler, which means he had closed the distance considerably. Well we were able to get that bird in sight, about 60 yards out. For about 45 minutes, he gobbled. He had to have a sore throat for a few days after. By the way, the turkey won. But the lesson is: that gobbler had been out of hearing that morning and the old box call blast brought him in.
“As far as the remaining season, I don’t have much to offer. Just get out there and learn from the pros. The pros being the remaining old birds that have heard it all by now. With the promise of warmer and still mornings in the forecast, who knows what may happen. Until September, stay safe and stay after those birds. God bless!”
Madison County: Keith Ingram, of Comer, reports, “Well, what started out as a very promising season on opening day when I called in a couple 2-year-olds, and my son was able to take one of them, it steadily went south from there. We did not have the birds I thought we were going to have. I got obsessed with one gobbler in particular that was without a doubt the toughest bird I have ever hunted, and as of April 26, I was still wondering whether he had been killed somewhere else, or he just had completely shut down. This bird did it all, from hanging up just out of sight and range to circling my setup, to being 12 steps from me one morning and just needing to walk 10 more yards to be in front of my bead and turning around and walking off.
“I know there are five jakes on our property because I called them in on several occasions but decided not to take any of them. Gobbling was off also, from not gobbling until they were on the ground early in the season to some tree gobbling mid season, to nothing by the end of April.
“The numbers are getting worse every season. I saw a total of five hens all season, and I would bet that not a poult is raised this year. The reason being is hogs. I’ve never seen anything like it. I would not be afraid to bet that one morning I saw 75 to 100 hogs in three different bunches. I killed a big sow and shot another with a turkey load on the morning of the 26th. There’s so many that it makes you nervous about going in the woods before daylight. I hope help is on the way. We have a new club member who has dogs, and I’m hoping he can help with the problem. With what’s left with the season, I’m going to try some public lands in the mountains. This is a broken record, but if the state doesn’t make some changes as far as the turkey regulations, I’m afraid we are headed for a really bad situation. Probably not as bad as the bobwhite, but bad enough. These hogs are taking over, and besides habitat loss, they may be the biggest threat.”
Columbia County: Dylan Hankal, of Appling, reports, “So far this year the turkey hunting has been good. The first few weeks of the season started slow with very little to no gobbling at all. However, as the year has gone on, the gobbling has gotten better.
“From what I have observed so far this season the turkey population has improved, and hopefully it will stay the same after this season. With many people having time off from work to go hunting, I’m sure it will have some impact on the population and next year’s hunting season.
“On March 29, me and my girlfriend Natalie doubled up on two toms coming out of a food plot we had planted back in the fall. April 4 my dad killed a tom early in the morning in some hardwoods where the turkeys had been scratching every day in the mornings and evenings. April 24, my mom killed a tom in the morning hours. The action has been fairly good for us this year, and due to COVID-19, I have had more time to spend in the woods to call and listen for birds and eventually get their patterns figured out, which has led to us bagging four exceptional birds while spending quality family time at home and in the turkey woods.”
Hancock County: Greg Grimes reports, “We have some new property this year, and it seems to be laid out pretty well for some turkey hunting. We had a good mix of cutover that should provide nesting cover, as well as open fields, a powerline and hardwoods. It is fun trying to figure out exactly where the turkeys will roost and travel. It’s been a pretty classic example of gobbling on the roost and less gobbling once they hit the ground. We have had a couple of good close encounters and unfortunately one hunt ruined by poachers that crossed over the property line.
“Land partners have had a great time hunting with their sons. They are new to turkey hunting and have found it very action-packed almost every time going out. As of this writing the gobblers were still gobbling well, and this last weekend of April had multiple gobblers on the powerline.
“I think with the remaining season and most of the hens now on nest we plan to spend more time hunting the powerline where there should be some good bugging action. Gobblers know they can be seen from far away and strut for the ladies. If we find the time, it might be a great time to fool a late season gobbler. If you own a decoy, now is the best time to use it.”
Fayette and Meriwether Counties: Jeff Scurry, of Fayetteville, reports, “Turkey numbers are down in both areas where I hunt, mainly noticed a big reduction in the number of hens. During this pandemic, I have been able to hunt a little more, but I’m also focusing on hunting predators. After taking a nice tom first of the season, I scored on a few coyotes, including a black one. Toms seem to have been quieter than normal this year, less vocal, and seem to have been with the hens early this year. And with the numbers down it makes it tougher to draw them away. To the hunters still trying to fill their tag, hunting midday and open areas like fields and logging roads are prime spots for toms to be out searching for a receptive hen. Toms like to be visible and frequent large open areas to increase visibility, hoping to draw in those last few hens.”
Monroe County: Greg Grimes reports, “It has been a great year in the turkey woods. For the last few years I have struggled a bit to get to play the chess match. What I mean is very little gobbling or sightings to even have a chance. This year one thing I have figured out is the one consistent is the unpredictable nature of gobbling. One day 200 gobbles, the next day not a peep. They are there but sometimes just remain silent.
“Patience has paid off with activity later in the morning. Very little gobbling while on roost, with better gobbling from 8:30 to 10 a.m. We have had many close encounters with kids, but I haven’t killed one in Monroe County.
“Matt Duffey, of Forsyth, gave me this report of his son Riley’s first turkey. ‘We got to the hardwood ridge and set up, first call we had one gobble behind us. He circled around us and decided to strut at about 40 yards, not willing to close the gap he completely circled us over the course of an hour. We finally moved back 30 yards, so the next time he circled us, he was about 10 yards away. He gobbled at least 100 times and spent most of the time in full strut.’ We both hunted this last weekend of April and have not heard a gobble. It seems they might already be shutting it down. Matt said, ‘Late season strategy is patience and persistence, with very little calling.’ I might add that I’m not a fan of decoys because I move too much, but for the rest of the season I will try to get a new hunter a turkey or get my third with a bow, so I will not leave home without the decoy.”
Colquitt County: Adam Childers of Norman Park, reports, “So far, this has been a tough season for me. Opening morning I set up about 100 yards from two birds that gobbled their heads off until 9:15. A few days later on the same property, I set up on a bird that gobbled a few times in the tree then went silent. This has been the story of my turkey season.
“The common denominator here is hens. During the month of April, I have heard very few gobbles. I believe the gobblers have had plenty of hens around them on the mornings I have been able to go. I’ve heard plenty of reports of people having success in this part of the world though. One success story is my buddy Ryan Diers who killed a good bird at 10 steps with his long bow. If you’ve ever tried bowhunting turkeys, with even a compound bow, you know this is no easy feat!”
“Overall, I think our turkey population around here is very healthy. My trail cameras set up on the edge of fields have confirmed that there are plenty of gobblers around. I’ve had multiple pictures of two and three gobblers at all times of the day. I’m beginning to think I just need somebody to teach me how hunt them! As the season comes to a close, hopefully my luck will change, and I’ll catch the right bird at the right time. I’ve been seeing birds in fields late in the afternoon, so a late afternoon hunt may do the trick.”
Crisp County: Jodi Manders, of Cordele, reports, “Well another turkey season is about to be in the books. This year has been a lot different on our property as far as turkey activity. It has been at a standstill for the last three weeks except for an occasional gobble and not seeing a turkey for days, not even turkey tracks. We usually have a hard decision as to what area to hunt, but not this year. The gobbles have been way down this year. I know that during deer season we had an abundance of gobblers and hens. I saw them while deer hunting, have pictures and videos of them.
“I was able to harvest a mature gobbler on April 18 (see article and photos.) I’ve been hunting his known roosting area, and I have been watching this bird for a few weeks only to have him fly down and go in the opposite direction every time, except on the 18th he came my way and hit the ground gobbling.
“As I write this report on the 24th, the birds are still scarce around here. We saw two jakes feeding in a field about 9. Haven’t seen but one hen in two weeks.
“For me the coronavirus hasn’t had any effect on how much I hunted. I enjoy being out there in the woods away from people anyway. If you plan on hunting the last two weeks, it’s not too late to take a gobbler. I would suggest you try to roost one, and you will know where to hunt him the next morning. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to stay a little later and hunt late morning or even midday. I wish you all much success. Hunt safe and God bless. ”
Harris County: Jimmy Harper, of Hamilton, reports, “I know I’m definitely repeating myself, but it’s been another tough year of turkey hunting for my buddies and I in Harris County. With two weeks to go in the season, only one gobbler has been killed on a combined 850 acres of land that we hunt, that one by Branten Kreuzkamp very early in the season. The turkey numbers on the primary property we hunt dropped significantly several years ago when a large-scale hardwood timber harvest was completed. That loss of both roost trees and the associated hard mast, combined with a significant increase over the last several years of both nest and mature animal predators—crows, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, bobcats, skunks, snakes—has resulted in a turkey population on these properties that is barely huntable. In fact, the vast majority of the members of our hunting club have now given up turkey hunting on this tract and only hunt deer.
“For the last two weeks of the season, I’m going to concentrate on hunting a 16-acre tract of private land adjacent to our 790-acre timber company lease that is still covered with mature hardwood trees. There is one tom that continues to consistently roost on this small property, but it’s very hard to get in there without being seen, mainly because he usually roosts less that 100 yards from the main road. So I’ll be going in there and setting up extra early, without a light of any kind. And you can bet I’ll be wearing my snake boots when I do it, because that may not be a stick I’m stepping on!”
Muscogee County: Jimmy Harper reports, “Although I’ve yet to kill a gobbler in Muscogee County this season, I’ve had a great year. I’ve been into turkeys literally every time I’ve gone out, both mornings and afternoons, and enjoyed more gobbling activity than normal on the property I hunt. I handicapped myself by going bow-only for the first month of the season and had mature gobblers within 40 yards over a dozen times. However, my maximum bow range on turkeys, due to their small kill zone, is 20 yards, and those mature toms just wouldn’t commit to come that final 15 to 20 yards. My hunting partner, Bud Passmore, did put an arrow into a 2-year-old bird on the morning of March 26, then anchored a beautiful tom with his compound bow on the afternoon of April 3. Bud’s nephew, Rob, also killed a mature thunder chicken on this same property with his shotgun the morning of April 15.
“We started off the season knowing six mature gobblers spent a substantial amount of time on this Muscogee County property, and a seventh tom joined them beginning opening weekend. From past experience on this property, we knew it would not be smart for us to kill the high number of gobblers allowed by the Georgia state regulations, so we now set our own harvest goals each season in order to at least maintain, and hopefully grow, the turkey population. Because of that, we initially decided to harvest only three mature toms combined this season, but we increased that to four when the seventh gobbler joined the party, and also after we observed a significant number of jakes on the property. Three toms have been killed on this property this season thus far, so I’m hoping that last one falls to my CVA shotgun over the last two weeks of the season!
“Speaking of those last two weeks, I know it’s usually hot, but I love hunting Georgia turkeys in May. In fact, if I had to pick just four weeks to turkey hunt, it would be the first two weeks of the season and the last two. The hens have gone to nest, the gobblers are lonely, roaming, looking for both love and food, and also gobbling again. I’ll be hunting hard both mornings and afternoons right through the last day of the season. And when I say hunting hard, I mean late into the mornings, and from mid-afternoon until roosting time, every day that I can. If you have a field on your property, that’s a great place to hunt anytime, but especially late in the season. Creek bottoms, especially when temps get into the 80s and above, are also a great choice. But the main thing is to stick with it and don’t give up, because some of the biggest and oldest Georgia gobblers are shot in the month of May!”
Twiggs County: Richie Green, of Jeffersonville, reports, “Well with all the crazy stuff going on in the world today, why should turkey hunting be any different? Opening weekend and the Monday after was the highlight of my season. My buddies from Ohio came down, and both killed one. The first one I talked about last month killed on Sunday, and then Hunter Lane killed one Monday morning that was textbook. We came out to the edge of a field at daybreak and one gobbled 80 yards down the field to our left. So we set up and made a few calls, and he came right in to 15 yards of a .410 shotgun, and it’s over in 20 minutes. And that was the end of the turkeys acting right.
“Some years it’s like you’re calling is right up there with Walter Parrott or Ricky Joe. Every time you set up on a bird he comes in, and in three hunts you’re tagged out. Then the next year you make a call they shut up or go the other way, every time. Me and my daughter Laci had 10 birds gobbling one morning and four were within 80 yards of our setup, gobbling their heads off until they flew down. They never once answered my sweet little tree yelps, but answered every owl and crow they heard.
“My granddaughter hunted every morning for the first month with either me or her boyfriend Lane Brown trying to get her first one. Finally on April 16 Lane finally coaxed one in for her, and man was it a dandy. Shaye, Lane and his friend Dalton were hunting that morning, and they had been listening for turkeys to start gobbling for about 15 minutes when finally a bird hammered on a ridge top about 500 yards away. They quickly gathered their stuff and headed toward him. They closed the distance to about 150 yards and had the tom gobbling at every call Lane was making. The tom pitched down out of the tree on top of the ridge he was roosted on and would not budge to come any closer. Lane quickly got an idea. He told Shaye and Dalton to stay put by the decoy, as he was going to walk back about 150 yards and call on the way. When Lane got all set up and made a purr sequence on his slate call the bird couldn’t hear it. So Lane did it again louder and got his attention. The bird instantly broke strut and flew across a drainage ditch into the bottom. The bird put on a beautiful show. The turkey finally made it into gun range for Shaye, but she still couldn’t see the tom. As Dalton said, ‘Get ready, here he comes,’ Shaye got the clear opening she needed and pulled the trigger, and 23 yards out the bird was laying dead. Didn’t even flop. Shaye had killed her first turkey. They got home and unofficially scored the turkey at 74.5, and that would be No. 3 for the state for a gobbler by a lady hunter. And for a first turkey, that’s amazing. Watch the whole hunt unfold on Hunt Obsessed TV’s YouTube channel, video ‘Shaye’s Monster First Turkey!’
“The good side of this is that we do have some birds to hunt, and by the looks of things they will be here next year, too. If we have a good hatch, things could be awesome in two more years. Hope everyone is safe. See y’all in September.”
Wheeler County: Michael Lee, of Backwoods Life, reports, “Gobbling has been pretty good this season over all, but the hens have still run the show as always. I have hunted a good bit here in Georgia this season due to out-of-state trips being canceled from the virus. Our population overall is pretty good, have seen lots of birds. They were grouped up big time in early March, and we have trail-cam pics of breeding on March 2. Around the middle of March they busted up big time and scattered. I was able to tag my birds and put my wife Beth Lee on her first of the season. Patience has been the key. They haven’t come running in much—slow and steady has won the race. Right now they are gobbling pretty good still and following lone hens around pretty tight. If you can get close to one though, he will come check you out.”
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