By Steve Hickoff
Often the key to filling a fall turkey tag for your Thanksgiving table is how effectively you hunt near the roost site after morning flocks fly down and before they fly up in the evening.
Hunt #1: You know where the fall flock roosts and where they feed.
Tactic: Set up with a portable blind, or other available option, right there between the roosting area and feeding zone. Call sparingly and imitate turkeys that answer you.
Hunt #2: The brood hen begins assembly calling nearby after fly-down time to get young turkeys together.
Tactic: Don’t dramatically flush her, but stand and slowly walk toward the hen, which will move her away and silence her calls. Return to your setup and resume calling to regrouping birds, imitating their vocalizations, or simply sit down where she was calling, and wait silently.
Hunt #3: You’ve nailed down the flock’s roost, but turkeys routinely fly down, get together, and leave the area.
Tactic: If legal hours and your patience allows, be there when they return to fly up in late afternoon. You may be able to call a turkey to your setup before hunting closes that day.
Hunt #4: Turkeys don’t seem to like your calls or your calling.
Tactic: Experiment with calls and calling. The first rule of fall turkey hunting is to call to the bird you want to lure in. Mimic them. Want a mature gobbler? Gobbler yelp or gobble. Want a juvenile bird of the year? Kee-kee or kee-kee-run to these young turkeys.
Hunt #5: You’ve seen a fall gobbler flock fighting to establish pecking order after they fly down.
Tactic: Get in there early the next morning using your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side to access the general location. Slip in quietly on foot and make your setup. At fly-down time, call with fighting purrs, agitated clucks, raspy yelps, even gobbles. Stay alert; gobblers may run or sneak in silently.