Hunting turkeys in the fall has been a tradition since before the pioneers landed at Plymouth Rock.
We’ve been waiting religiously for it and I can’t find the right ammunition for my new shotgun this season. Oh! good The old 12 gauge was great for bagging my Thanksgiving bird. We are likely to hunt them in the snow this year. This opens up a great opportunity to pounce on the herd as you can get onto tracks in the snow and hunt them until you hear or see them in the distance.
Spring and fall turkey hunting methods are different so it can be assumed that he is hunting two different species. Those methods used in the fall can also vary greatly, depending on whether you are hunting a hen and her yearlings. “Jakes” (1¢-year-old gobblers) or on mature long-bearded gobblers.
Turkey hunting is never easy, spring or fall, but going after a fall gobbler is, at least in my opinion, the toughest challenge you can ask for in the fall woods.
The first step is to identify the turkeys. The easiest way is still to hunt in the woods, looking for places scratched on leaves by gobblers for nuts, seeds, insects, bulbs, etc. Gobblers draw in large patches, usually in a straight line. the land Hens and youngsters scratch willy-nilly on a ridge that looks like someone worked it with a yard rake.
Once you find the turkeys feeding area, you have two options: sit there and wait for the turkeys to start feeding again. Of course, this can take hours or even days, so unless waiting patiently for endless hours is your strong suit, you won’t enjoy it.
There is more involved than just placing. You must sit still. Turkeys have very keen eyes in the woods and can detect the slightest movement before they are within shotgun range. So if you move or scratch or change positions, suddenly waiting for turkeys is a fruitless adventure.
It is probably a good practice to hunt by slowly watching for the herd and listening for the sounds of their scratching. Just a few turkeys are like infantry in leaf scratching maneuvers.
Once there is a herd, the fun begins. You can’t hope to sneak close enough to get a shot, so the next move will startle and confuse the herd so much that they run or fly in several directions. Many hunters disperse the herd by running towards them, sometimes firing into the air.
For safety reasons, do not fire into the herd. At this point it can cripple or injure the bird, which you don’t want to do. Shoot into the air where you have no chance of hitting another hunter you haven’t seen yet. If you can get a good scatter, your patience and calling ability now count. Pick a spot in the same area, sit against a large tree, get comfortable, pull on your camouflage face mask and gloves, and wait 20 minutes to pick up mouth calls. Then start calling.
You can use yelps but if you know it’s a flock of hens and kids, use the whistle or call of the young turkeys. These are the crazy calls they use as soon as they feel alone and desperately want to identify other members of the herd.
This call is known as the kee-kee of lost young birds and is often called the hardest call to make. In fact, it is almost impossible to do anything other than a single or double (even more) read mouth call.
In theory, turkeys will be frantic to be separated from mama and will come looking for you after hearing your key-keys. It often works and I’ve gotten a bunch of birds using this method but it’s not foolproof. Any number of things can happen to bolix the plan. For example, if an old hen starts calling, the birds are sure to recognize her and go to her.
But mature gobblers are solitary. They don’t travel with flocks of chickens and kids. They ignore key-keys.
But if you get close to a small band of gobblers they will scatter. Their reintegration process is somewhat different from that of young birds. The scattered wise old gobblers are in no rush to mingle. They can reconvene within the hour or wait for days.
If you choose to try for one of the big boys, you’ll have to play the waiting game. Wait at least an hour before you start your calling (if you don’t hear one of them calling) and then call low with slow, deep tones and clucks. Often not answering your calls, these guys like to sneak in so be constantly alert. They enjoy suddenly appearing in front of you and you didn’t see them coming.
Calling your scatter gun in Turkey is exciting. It takes quite a bit of practice to trick the wily bird into thinking you’re his mama.