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Peak Turkey Gobbling Dates Chart I Turkey Communication / Calls

Turkey Articles I Turkey Hunting Tips 

 

 

The articles on this page are excerpts from the Turkey Addict's Manual, by T.R. Michels. For more information on turkey biology and behavior, and turkey hunting techniques, order your copy in the

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Turkey Gobbling Activity Graphs

 

 

The time when tom turkeys may be most likely to respond to calls is during one of the spring breeding season's gobbling peaks. For years most turkey biologists and researchers talked about only two gobbling peaks, one before the primary breeding phase, and one after the primary breeding phase. And many hunters try to hunt during those two gobbling peaks. However, my four year research study showed that there may be as many as four spring gobbling peaks.

 

 

Below is a graph of gobbling activity from my 1998 study. It shows that there were two gobbling peaks, and they occurred when the MN State turkey biologist said they would; the first to second week of April, and the first week of May. Many hunters try to hunt during these two gobbling peaks because the toms are easy to locate (by their gobbling), and it is when they are most likely to come to calls (because they are probably not with hens).

 

 

 

 Daily Gobbling Activity

Several different studies have shown that gobbling usually begins about 45 minutes before sunrise, and often subsides within 45-60 minutes after sunrise. Studies have also shown individual toms may do more gobbling on the roost than when they are on the ground, and that toms gobble less and strut more when they are with hens. My studies confirm those findings. As you can see by the graph below gobbling began about 5:45, peaked at about 6:15, when the toms flew down from the roost. Sunrise occurred at 6:38. Once the toms were on the ground they began walking toward the feeding/strutting area, gobbling infrequently as they walked. When the toms got near the feeding/strutting area they could hear the hens, and they began to gobble more frequently. Then, as the toms saw the hens they began to strut, and they gobbled less.

 

 

Gobbling Activity in Relation to Hen Calling

Toms usually begin gobbling before the hens begin calling, probably to let the hens know where they are, to get the hens to respond so the toms know where the hens are, and to try to attract the hens. The graph below shows that hens may not begin calling loudly (Loud Yelp) until 10-20 minutes after the toms begin gobbling.

 

 

 Dominance and Mating Display Strategies

One of the things we need to keep in mind when we talk about gobbling is that toms can't strut when they gobble, because they have to stick their neck out to gobble. We also need to keep in mind that a tom's tactics for attracting hens and expressing dominance change depending on how close the tom is to other toms and hens. When toms are not within visual sight of hens they often gobble. But, once they are close to hens they often begin to strut, consequently they gobble less when they are with hens, particularly during the Primary Breeding Phase.

 

Changes in Daily Gobbling Activity During the Breeding Phases

Because I graphed daily gobbling activity 3-4 times each week during my studies I discovered that there may be only one daily gobbling peak, or there may be two gobbling peaks. The graph below shows that there was often only one (early morning) gobbling peak before the Primary Breeding Phase in mid-April (Pre-Primary Breeding Gobbling Peak) by several different toms (not all together, but within hearing distance of each other). Because the toms often roosted with the hens, gobbling normally peaked before sunrise, and diminished as the toms and hens went to the feeding/strutting areas. Since the toms were with the hens they did more strutting and less gobbling at the feeding areas, and because they often stayed with the hens during the day, they continued to feed and strut rather than gobble.

 

 

 

The graph below shows that, during late April (the Primary Breeding Period Gobbling Lull) there was only one gobbling peak, and that it occurred shortly after sunrise, before the toms got together with the hens. Because the toms were still often roosted with the hens, they didn't gobble a lot on the roost. And they didn't gobble much as they followed the hens to the feeding/strutting area. At the feeding/strutting area the toms were in sight off the hens, where they began to strut, and rarely gobbled. Because the hens often left the feeding/strutting areas in groups - the toms often followed them as they left, and they fed and strutted more and gobbled less because they were with the hens.

 

 

The graph below shows that in early May (the Post Primary Breeding Gobbling Peak) there were often two gobbling peaks, one as the toms gobbled from the roost, followed by a decrease in gobbling as the toms found hens at feeding/strutting areas and begin to strut. Because many of the hens had already been bred at this time, they often left the strutting area by themselves, often leaving one or more hens behind. As long as one hen remained at the feeeding/strutting are the tom stayed their and continued to strut. But, once the last hen left the feeding/strutting area the toms often begin to gobble more, probably in an effort to attract any nearby hens, or they left to go to another feeding/strutting area, where they began to gobble again to try to attract any nearby hens.

 

 

Daily Overhead/Underfoot Position of the Moon

Several popular game activity tables (Solunar Tables, Feeding & Fishing Times, Vektor Tables, Moon Guide) suggest that game activity is affected by the overhead/underfoot position of the moon. Supposedly the gravitational pull of the moon is strong enough when it is directly overhead of underfoot of a game animal's position on earth that it will cause them deer to begin to move or feed. There is no scientific evidence to support this belief/theory. Since the time of the overhead/underfoot position of the moon changes every day (by about 55 minutes) the times when turkeys are sighted (over the course of a month) should be scattered throughout the day, but they aren't, turkey sightings peak at dawn and dusk. The data from the above graphs (and several other studies) show that turkey activity is not affected by/correlated with the overhead/underfoot position of the moon

 

There is more information on deer activity in the Turkey Addict's Manual available in the catalog.

 

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