I took the below frorm a link off the Kentucky DF&W Site on Turkey Transition Periods. Being fairly new to Turkey hunting myself, and understanding the importance the Rut plays in Deer Hunting Tactics, I wanted to get a sense of the calling tactics relative to the different transition periods. Best as I can figure, from my experience and that of others, less is more when it comes to calling, but so are the right types of calls. However, when you throw in hunting public land some of it all goes by the wayside because every Tom, Dick and Harry is yelping like fools out there..myself included until I was properly educated by some of the pros and vets here. So below is paraphrased from the KY DF&W site, and I've taken the liberty of boldtyping the portions that pertain to the calling recommended during that period. Would appreciate it if you all would comment on the accuracy, and I'm especially interested to hear what those who hunt public land in the North East have to say about transition periods and calling tactics. Best as I can tell from a Knight and Hale show on TV we are towards the end of transition period 3 (May 3 -10th?) in the northeast, which is equivalent to the peak of the rut when it comes to Turkey hunting and calls for aggressive calling once he pitches down and then backing off to more soft clucks and purrs? Your thoughts?
[font="bookman old style"]Transition Phase I
[font="bookman old style"]Turkeys begin changing their routines in early spring. Gobblers that traveled alone or with other toms throughout the winter start bunching with congregating hens. Large mixed flocks of mature toms, jakes and hens begin spending virtually all their time together. Regular gobbling begins in this phase.
[font="bookman old style"]When hunting during the first phase, the most productive way to tag a gobbler is to get as close to the roost as possible to begin calling. Foliage is sparse, so approach flocks cautiously. Start calling softly with tree yelps, but as soon as it is light enough for turkeys to be on the ground, use louder, more aggressive calls. Hens gather in large numbers during this phase and are very vocal. Hunters can call frequently.
[font="bookman old style"]Try using a number of different calls during this phase. Mixing a box call, a slate or glass call, and a mouth diaphragm makes a hunter sound like a flock of hens. Often this will bring a whole group of turkeys into range, with the gobblers bringing up the rear.
[font="bookman old style"]Hunters who aren't successful just after fly down should move ahead of a flock to likely feeding areas. Turkeys are predictable in early spring, and determining the daily routine of the flock will increase the chances of harvesting a long-beard. Also, hunters can spend productive time around the original roost site late in the afternoon. If the flock returns to roost in the same area, a hunter can put himself in good position by arriving a couple of hours before fly up.
[font="bookman old style"]Another effective tactic during this phase is using a set of "fighting purrs" -- two push-pull type box calls -- to simulate a gobbler fight. The sound can also be reproduced on a slate-type call and a diaphragm. This call can work any time of day, but it isn't a sure bet. Get ready if a tom gobbles in response to the mock fight, because birds usually come in fast.
[font="bookman old style"]Transition Phase II
[font="bookman old style"]Commonwealth turkey hunters usually encounter the second transition phase during the opening days of the spring season. Flocks have broken into smaller groups of one or two gobblers with a small band of hens. This is the phase when many hunters complain that the toms are "all henned up."
[font="bookman old style"]Gobbling is intense on the roost and during the first hour that the birds are on the ground. This is when gobblers are staging, or regrouping with their hens, and displaying.
[font="bookman old style"]Luring a gobbler early in the morning is difficult during this phase -- the best bet is to get in close to the roost and call aggressively. The ideal time to hunt is during late morning and early afternoon. Hunters should cover a lot of ground and try to locate gobblers with shock calls like a crow or hawk call. If shock calls don't work, cutting loudly on a turkey call often will elicit a response.
[font="bookman old style"]When a gobbler is located, a hunter should try to get the bird excited with aggressive cutting and yelping. Once the tom responds a number of times or begins working his way closer, the hunter should tone down the calling to clucks, purrs and soft yelps to lure the bird into shooting range. The second phase is a good time to harvest subordinate gobblers. These birds work around the outskirts of flocks with dominant toms, and many times these two-year-old gobblers will slip in silently to a hunter's calling. These toms do the majority of their gobbling in mid-morning.
[font="bookman old style"]Transition Phase III
[font="bookman old style"]The third spring transition period for turkeys is equivalent to the peak of rut for white-tailed deer. This is absolutely the best time to hunt gobblers. Most hens are sitting on their nests, and the few that aren't leave gobblers early.
[font="bookman old style"]The great thing about this time is that basically all calls are effective. Gobblers are lonely and eager to come to a potential mate once they're on the ground. Getting a tom excited with aggressive calls then backing off to soft contented calls is a good method to bring in a long-beard.
[font="bookman old style"]Locator calls are also effective during this phase. Use an owl call early and an aggressive crow call during the rest of the day. Cutting loudly on a tube call also is a good way to locate a willing gobbler. The acoustics from tube calls carry long distances due to tone and volume, and produce realistic turkey sounds when mastered.
[font="bookman old style"]Once a tom is located with a shock or cutting call, hunters should switch to their favorite turkey call. Set up quickly and quietly if a gobbler responds. Many times birds will come in fast with only a few gobbles.
[font="bookman old style"]Hunting from mid-morning into the afternoon is productive during this phase. Gobblers stay in core areas that they have staked as their territories. If a hunter can get in one of those areas, the likelihood of a long-beard responding favorably to a call is high. Placing a jake and hen decoy in a gobbler's core territory can be effective. A boss tom will not tolerate a juvenile male around a hen on his turf. This phase is the best time to take an old long-spurred trophy gobbler.
[font="bookman old style"]A tactic that also works well during this time is buddy hunting. One person is designated as the caller, while the other is the shooter. The caller should sit 40 to 70 yards behind the shooter. The gobbler, believing a hen is farther away, will pass by the shooter. This tactic is especially effective when a tom hangs up to gobble and strut 60 to 100 yards from the caller. If the tom does this, he will still be within range of the shooter.
[font="bookman old style"]If the tom still won't come close, the shooter should stay put while the caller keeps working the bird and slowly moving away. A long-beard that believes a hen is leaving him will often break position and come closer to the calling. Again, the shooter is much closer to the bird and often gets a good shot.
[font="bookman old style"]Transition Phase IV
[font="bookman old style"]Hens are rarely available for gobblers during the fourth transition phase because most are sitting on their nests. At this stage, toms gobble some on the roost then travel to their strut zones.
[font="bookman old style"]Strut zones are places where a gobbler has called up hens earlier in the spring. Typical strut zones include logging roads, flats on a hardwood bench, or points overlooking pastures or bottoms.
[font="bookman old style"]Toms call up most of their hens by drumming during this phase. Hunters should listen closely for this low frequency sound.
[font="bookman old style"]Patterning a gobbler's strut zone routine isn't difficult. Once a pattern is realized, hunters should get to a tom's strut zone and wait patiently for the turkey to arrive. The tom will usually gobble on approach. It is best to let him gobble a few times with no response. When the bird gets close to the strut zone, a few soft calls are usually all it takes to bring him in. It is much easier to call a turkey to somewhere he already wants to go than to try to make him come to where you want him to be.
[font="bookman old style"]Hens aren't vocal during this phase, so calling should be soft and infrequent. Loud aggressive calling will not sound natural and is not effective. Clucks and purrs with an occasional soft yelp are a hunter's best bet, and slate calls and push-pull boxes are the easiest to make quality soft calls on.
[font="bookman old style"]Hunting around fields is also effective during this phase. Gobblers spend a fair amount of time near fields because hens nest around the edges. Fields also supply nutrition for toms physically run down by the breeding season.
[font="bookman old style"]Using a blind made from camouflage material or building one from natural cover help hide a hunter's movements from a silently approaching long-beard, especially if the hunter plans to stay at the set up for a number of hours.
[font="bookman old style"]A few decoys, an occasional soft call, and patience will often pay off when hunting a field during this phase.
[font="bookman old style"]Transition Phase V
[font="bookman old style"]The final spring transition phase finds gobblers returning to fall flocks. Multiple gobblers will regroup, and gobbling activity decreases dramatically. Toms spend a lot of time in fields eating new vegetation and insects. Hens often have poults with them by this point and are not interested in breeding.