Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Fall Turkey Hunting
By Steve Hickoff
The so-called “second season” for fall turkeys arrives soon. Check your state regulations to see if one is offered.
Find food sources. Fall turkeys will follow. Your local flocks, like others around the country, rely on high-protein grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects for nutrition. Through summer as brood hens raise poults (young turkeys), and as gobbler gangs—plus broodless hens—travel with their own sex, flocks often hit open field or edge cover locations daily. As colder months arrive, fall turkey flocks often transition to spending more time in the woods and along edge cover, feeding on both lingering soft and hard mast such as various berries, beechnuts and acorns—and much more. Sometimes it seems there’s nothing a wild turkey won’t eat.
As strategies go, there are two primary fall turkey hunting approaches: you can passively wait for patterned wild turkeys to show up in range. Do so either on the ground, in a blind, or from a treestand, or find a flock and attempt to scatter them on foot. Separated birds want to regroup—especially autumn family flocks. Yes, it seems contradictory to find then scare groups of turkeys into flight. This relies on the chance you won’t be in shooting range, but close enough to rush them on foot, or use a trained dog where legal. Once turkeys are separated, you can set up at the scatter location and try to call them back in to you.
CALLING FALL TURKEYS
Some hunters tag birds regularly with only clucking and yelping. Others use as many calling vocalizations as possible. As fall turkeys go, imitate their calls by age and sex to evoke a response from the kind of individual bird or flock you want to hunt. In family groups, young birds-of-the year respond to kee-kees and kee-kee-runs. Brood hens use assembly calls—a long series of yelps—to gather separated flock members. Adult gobblers and broodless hens (the other two types of fall flocks) communicate with raspy yelps (gobblers), and higher pitched yelps (hens), as well as clucking. Even if you don’t use the range of available calls, hearing live birds afield can clue you in to what might happen next. It helps you think like a turkey.