By Steve Hickoff
Get out there with your Yamaha utility ATV or Side-by-Side before the fall wild turkey season begins. There’s no substitute to spending regular time with the birds. Some seasons begin nationwide as early as September. Be ready.
Track size reflects the sex and age of turkeys. Gobbler flocks lay down large footprints, while family groups might reflect a range of sizes depending on the hatch date that year. Many droppings, tracks, and scratchings indicate bigger turkey flocks, while spare evidence reflects fewer numbers. Dusting bowls are fresh if the soil is loose, and other sign in them or nearby is new. Old sign may indicate turkeys have left the area for other food sources.
Damp droppings tell you fall birds were there recently. Concentrated feathers can indicate a roost site when slightly dispersed, or a predator kill when tightly compacted in a small area. Mixed sets of new and old tracks indicate flocks use the area regularly. Raked areas in the woods, especially along field edges or in food plots, often indicate autumn feeding zones.
Study these changes for the best fall hunting success. Later on, plant yourself near locations where you’ve found evidence of flocks while scouting. Arrive early to position yourself close to roosted birds. In autumn, birds fly down and move directly to feeding zones. Establish yourself between these two spots.
If you’ve scattered an autumn group, quickly study the terrain and pick a calling setup that chances at drawing turkeys to you from many directions as they regroup. Since fall opportunities are often all-day affairs, gravitate toward those roosting sites in late afternoon to intercept birds before fly-up time.
Have you patterned fall turkeys that fly down and move to predictable feeding zones each day? If so, establish a blind somewhere between point A (the roost) and B (the food source). Get in there early, and wait for action to come to you.