If there's one thing that gets me fired up about turkey hunting, it's hearing a bird gobble right off the roost. Sitting there at the base of a tree, scouring the limbs around you to see if you can figure out his location before he fly's down is always thrilling. And if you're lucky enough to persuade him to come visit you right after he leaves his roost for the day, that's even better. Unfortunately, that's not always how the cookie crumbles in the turkey woods. In fact, I've personally had more hunts crumble right off the roost than I can care to remember. And, as easy as it is to get discouraged, convincing yourself that the hunt is over for the day; fooling a long beard later in the day isn't as impossible as some people make it out to be.
Sure, calling a lone gobbler in off the roost is probably one of the most surefire ways to kill any given bird. If there isn't already a hen nearby and your setup is a good one, then there's a good likelihood that he could be interested in what you're dishing out. Now of course, we've all seen even the "most perfect" of scenarios go south, but generally speaking calling a bird in off the roost is a pretty strong way to kill them. After they have a chance to breed that first hen, that 9:30 or 10:00 hunt can be just as good if you can locate a bird looking for another lady friend. It's after the lunchtime hour that a lot of people feel like the odds of finding a bird are slim to none. But here's the thing, it's still very doable, but you'll need to switch up your call tones.
Mid-afternoon birds can be vocal, but chances are that you might have to do some walking and calling to strike one up. Over the years, I've found that getting a bird to gobble in the afternoon isn't as difficult as it was once made out to be when it was explained to me. Since they might be with a hen or had just left one, the sheer number of gobbles heard in the afternoon is far less than any good morning hunt. So, when you do get one to sound off, there's a decent chance that he is interested in what you have to say. But as I've found out through trial and error, the call tone and pitch that you deliver might have to be different than how you sounded earlier that morning.
This season, I hunted a mid-day long beard that I got to gobble just a few hundred yards away. And though he would reply to my calls, my love tunes were just not interesting to him. He was hung up for whatever reason and began to walk away multiple times. I was so frustrated by this bird that I actually packed up twice to head out. For over an hour, we played games going back and forth until I picked up the pace and the pitch of my calls. After switching from soft yelps and purrs from my slate, I pulled out an aluminum friction call and scribbled down hard on that surface. Super high pitched yelps with a much, and I mean much faster cadence spun him around almost on a dime and had him take off in my direction. 5 minutes later, he came in from behind me at 6 yards, walked straight past me to my decoys and spun around all fanned up. He was so close that I probably could have killed him with a rock, but the 3 inch TSS load ate him up instead.
Getting aggressive with this call was the only reason that this bird changed his course of direction to me. Call cadence, pitch and volume made all of the difference to convince him that there was a very hot hen nearby that was worth a visit. When you're up against a wall with an afternoon bird, don't be shy to crank out some loud and fast tunes because it can be exactly what you need to tip the odds in your favor.