Fall Turkey-A Breed All Their Own
Hunting turkeys in the spring compared to hunting turkeys in the fall is like night and day. If you are looking for a challenge, look no further than turkey hunting in the fall. To add to the challenge, take the birds on using archery gear.
Having dealt with the hot days of summer for the last few months, the cool, crisp mornings of autumn is welcomed with open arms. I like to call this time of year, “flannel shirt weather” the best time of all to be outdoors.
Fishing has been on our minds for the past few months. Some of us got the hunting bug in August when squirrel season opened others got it in September on the opening day of dove season. But, for most of us we are coming sown with the first case of hunting fever the first of October, the opening day of archery season for turkey and deer.
Lots of fall turkey hunters are archery deer hunters who purchase an archery turkey tag just in case they have an opportunity to arrow a bird. Still though, there are hunters who have nothing else on their mind but to hunt the toughest bird there is-the fall turkey.
A small percentage of Jakes (young birds) are harvested during the spring, but during the fall a large number of these birds are killed. Much like young whitetails, young turkeys are immature and often throw caution to the wind. This makes them an easier quest. Take note that I said easier, not easy. Another reason there are more jakes killed in the fall is that the past spring had a good hatch which allowed for more Jakes to be on the move through the woodlots and timber.
Spring turkey hunters have a big bag of tricks at their disposal, including many types of calls and decoys. These do not word all that well in the fall, as the turkeys are rarely vocal like they are in the spring. This makes them harder to find and often leaves the best turkey hunters scratching their head, wondering if there are even any turkeys to hunt.
Because calling is not too effective, it is up to the hunters to scout. This will allow the hunter to build confidence of the area, learn the lay of the land as well as the habits of the birds that call the area home.
It is common to find birds in the same area as you did in the spring. But, instead of focusing on mating as they did in the spring, their full attention falls on eating and not being eaten by predators.
Nothing compares to the sight of turkeys in a grassy field feeding on insects on a warm, sunny day. As the season progresses and the temperatures drops, turkeys will abandon their search for insects and move in search of grain, hard mast, soft mast and the like.
The biggest problem hunter’s face is finding large numbers of turkeys. In order to do this, the hunter will have to put in the legwork to find where the birds are and to listen for the slightest turkey sound, whether it is a quiet cluck or the scratching of leaves.
It is possible to call in fall turkeys, but more birds are killed by hunters who know their routine and are capable of getting ahead of the birds and waiting for the birds to arrive. To accomplish this, plenty of pre-season scouting needs to take place. Glassing from afar will help determine their routines. This is probably the best way to fill your turkey tag.
More times than not, turkey hunters in the fall will spend countless hours in the woods, only to return home without the slightest glimpse of a wild turkey. This is when hunters have to have confidence in their pre-season scouting.
Unlike in the spring, fall turkey hunters are in short numbers. The competition for prime hunting locations does not exist in the fall, or at least not to the extent that they do in the spring.
There is nothing like watching a mature gobbler strut and gobble across an open field to your setup in the spring. Something about seeing and hearing that make the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. On the other hand, autumn is one of the most enjoyable times of the year. The temperatures are comfortable, leaves are changing colors and the sights and sounds of the season are all around us.
Fall turkey success is not generally high. Many are killed by archery deer hunters that happen to have a turkey permit when a flock of turkeys wander by. Fall turkey hunting is not easy and can be challenging. Have confidence in your scouting and be willing to spend the time a-field. It will pay off.