Fall Turkey Tactics
By Bruce Thibodeau

Fall Turkey hunting can be one of the most enjoyable turkey hunts you can ask for. The fall
colors are out, there are not usually as many insects. The whole hunting mood is in full swing.
The only real issue with fall turkey is that everything you do to hunt them is nothing at all like
hunting them in the spring.

In the spring you locate a roost, Get out earlier and set up a few decoys, then try to call as
seductively as possible to lure a tom into range so you can get a shot. In the fall you will only
use decoys for confidence purposes, and your calls are secondary.

In the fall you first must locate the birds. That can be difficult compared to the spring as in the
fall they will usually not gobble or respond to calling and shock calls. Instead your best bet is to
locate where they feed and scratch looking for insects. Walk the trails and openings that have
little if any vehicle traffic, look in patches of long grass that border close to woodlands and
woodlots. When you locate the places the birds feed your job will have gotten a lot easier.
These places look to be areas of dirt patches or torn down or out patches of tall grass. There
will be scratches from their toes in the dirt. Depending on how many turkey are in the area,
you could have a few or a few dozen of these within a 50 yard area.

 

 

 

 

 

One method used in the fall season is to locate the area they are at you then must try to
pinpoint the time they arrive. In Spring Turkey you try to call the bird to you, in Fall Turkey you
try to ambush the birds on their usual path and pattern. So to hunt in the spring you only need
find a likely area. In the Fall you must be in the specific area they want to be.

When you get the time they travel through the area, and the place they are frequenting, the
only job left is to get there and set up and hope they come in and you do nothing to ruin it. If
you have birds come in the only thing that will hold them up is if they suspect something is
wrong. This is the time to use all of your ability to conceal yourself. Then be certain to not
move or to be hidden well enough any movement will not be able to be seen.

The second method is to locate a flock , and bust them up. You either yourself, or some use
dogs to run into a flock and scatter them. Then lay low, and begin kee kee’s and clucks and
try to get the birds to think you are one of them ,trying to find the others to regroup. When this
happens you lay low and await them to return to shoot your bird. In this way you will use calls.
In the ambush method calls are not needed. Usually the birds will begin to regroup in 15-30
minutes.

 

 

 

 

If you choose to set up decoys pay close attention to the way you do so. Again this is not
spring so the two hens and a jake is not a good set up in the fall. Try to set them to appear as
if they are feeding and relaxed. Pay attention to the wind as the wild birds will be. Set yourself
up about 20 yards off the spot they have been feeding, Then sit and watch and wait.

One thing to think about in fall turkey is that in spring you are hunting the gobblers. The fall
you can take either hen or tom. In the spring no hens are allowed to be shot for the purpose of
trying to allow them to nest and produce more turkey. In the fall you are actually better off
leaving the toms, and mature male birds alone.

Take a hen or a jake. The reason is that the younger birds will compete with the older birds for
food in the winter. The younger birds are not as able to survive severe cold and hard winters
as the older birds are due to fat reserves. If you shoot a tom in the fall, you are killing the bird
you could hunt the following spring. You could take away a mature bird which could be the
difference in successful nesting of several hens in the spring. By shooting a jake or a younger
bird you actually help the adult birds by taking out a bird that would compete for food and
possibly put a food stress on the flock in the winter.

 

 

 

 

The only other thing I will say about shooting a tom in the fall is the feathers are not nearly as
nice, and the bird has a more ragged appearance in the fall than in the spring. We as hunters
are supposed to be conservation minded for the resource. I will not say anything against
anyone who chooses to shoot a tom in the fall as it is a personal choice. I can only do as I have
and try to educate everyone to the needs of the resource verses our own human desire. Good
Luck and have fun.

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