Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Tactics to Put a Fall Turkey on Your Thanksgiving Table

Calling like lost turkeys is just one tactic to put a fall bird on your Thanksgiving table. (Steve Hickoff photo)

Calling like lost turkeys is just one tactic to put a fall bird on your Thanksgiving table. (Steve Hickoff photo)

By Steve Hickoff

Thanksgiving dinner is always better with a wild bird on your table. 


First, you have to find them. Lucky for us, wild turkeys are pretty messy and sometimes highly vocal, even in fall. Use your Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side to travel between scouting locations.

Listen for turkeys in the fall woods, especially as day dawns while still roosted. There’s often plenty of bird chatter then; even after fly-down as they regroup trying to find each other.

Damp droppings say birds were there recently. Track size shows the sex and age of turkeys. Gobbler flocks put down large footprints, while autumn family groups might reflect a range of sizes depending on the hatch date that year.

Many droppings, various tracks, and extensive scratchings indicate bigger turkey flocks. Less evidence reflects fewer numbers. Raked areas in the woods, especially along field edges or in food plots, often indicate autumn feeding zones. Mixed sets of new and old tracks say flocks use the area regularly. 

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. Now you’ll need to start over again until you make scouting contact once more.


Next, you have to make use of this information.

Have you patterned fall turkeys that fly down and move to predictable feeding zones each day? If so, establish a blind somewhere between the roost and their preferred food sources. Get in there early, and wait for action to come to you.

Call like lost turkeys with yelps and even kee-kee-runs after fly-down time and before they go to roost to pull intact groups into range. Curiosity will sometime lure the whole flock in. 

No luck? Separate the flocked-up birds. If you’ve scattered an autumn group, quickly study the terrain. Pick a calling setup that chances at drawing turkeys to you from many directions as they regroup.

Then pick out a bird in range for your holiday table as it works back to your calls and setup. 

Do you serve wild turkey on your Thanksgiving table? Please let us know on the Yamaha Outdoors Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/YamahaOutdoors