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When to Call Hens by Grant Woods

Most turkey hunters focus on calling gobblers, but there are times when it will be helpful to call hens! During the early part of the breeding season hens will often remain in flocks. It’s common for a handful of gobblers to follow flocks of hens.

Often the gobblers won’t be very vocal when following the hens. They rarely will leave the flock of hens to respond to a lone hen (hunter) calling. However, the flock of hens will often respond to a dominate sounding hen call. I’ve tagged several toms during the early season by calling a flock of hens and taking one of the gobblers that was following the hens. I listen to the hens and call a tad bit more aggressively than the loudest hen in the flock.

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If the hens are coming my direction, I refrain from calling. If they start traveling in a direction that will take them out of range, I start calling aggressively. I mimic whatever calls the most aggressive hen is making.

Turkey season in many states is long enough to encompass different portions of the breeding season. Knowing the biology and turkey behavior during the different stages of the season will help you tag more toms.

Chasing toms together,


Dr. Grant Woods
Dr. Grant Woods
Raised in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Dr. Grant Woods has consulted on wildlife research and management from Canada to New Zealand. A hunter since childhood, he not only knows how to grow big deer, but how to effectively hunt them as well. His work serves to improve deer herd quality and educate hunters about advanced management techniques.