A systems approach to turkey hunting is simple but necessary.  It involves scouting, knowing the habits of fall birds, calling skill and shooting accuracy.  

Scouting involves such things as visually locating birds.  This can best be done by use of binoculars.  You can observe birds from a distance and yet not disturb their activities.  Sound is also important in scouting.  Listen for birds to vocalize.  This can be in response to a crow call or just listening for birds to gobble. 

Fall turkey hunters are best served if they talk with landowners, rural postal carriers, and others who are in the field with the birds all year.  They are a wealth of knowledge as to just where the birds are moving and at what times of the day they can be found. 

Locating a flock consists of finding scratching sign in the hardwoods.  The scratching tells the story of the direction the flock is traveling.  Droppings tell the story of just which sex birds are in the flock.  Hen droppings are like a popcorn kernel while the jakes leave a long J-shaped dropping. 

Feathers that are found also tell a story.  Breast feathers that are dark are from gobblers or jakes.  The feathers for a hen or jenny will be brown and buff in color.  The feathers are often found in dusting areas.  These are areas of very loose dirt where the birds take a dust bath to rid themselves of parasites. 

Around water one needs to look for tracks.  Gobbler tracks are much larger than those of the other birds.  In dry years birds will roost near the water, a good place to look for them. 

Another way to have birds where you want them is to create your own hunting area.  The hunter with a specific plot of land can plant food plots of red top millet, clover and wheat. Birds will stay in the area as long as there is food available.

Fall turkey hunting is for jakes and jennies’.  That is the birds usually taken in fall are the young of the year either male or female.  Young jakes are more vocal in the fall.  More jakes are taken in the fall than Jennies’.  The young of the year are still in family groups of hens and the pouts of the year. 

Hen turkeys will maintain contact with soft contact calls such as the soft yelp.  It is a call with emotion and is soothing to the young birds. 

Once a flock is located scatter them by running through them without a firearm.  Once they are scattered return to the place where you first contacted them and set up.  It is a matter of sitting and waiting for the birds to return.  One can also bust up a flock at night and then hunt them in the morning.  Young birds that have been isolated all night are anxious to get back to the flock at first light. 

Going back to the flock busted during the day usually takes about 5 minutes before they begin to regroup.  The first bird starts it out with a kee call.  Answer with a kee call.  The use of a hen call is necessary to attract the youngster.  For this use a 6 in 1 waterfowl call because of it=s high pitch.   Use a high pitched call then a cluck to attract the young birds. 

Never uses a gobble call when hunting on public land.  It is too dangerous as you do not have control of the other hunters on the land.  Gobbles should only be used on private land where you know who else is sharing the woods with you. 

Two other safety considerations in fall hunting is never chase a bird with a loaded gun and to be careful in carrying a bird.  You do not want to be mistaken for a live bird. 

Mature gobblers can be taken in the fall but the approach is slightly different.  Gobblers respond better to aggressive calling.  Begin with a cluck to establish contact.  Then use a soft purr as a feeding call and move leaves around to simulate feeding birds. 

Gobblers have a pecking order.  When they hear a gobble they will gobble back as a means of establishing dominance. 

Knowledge of the turkey vocalizations is vital to fall turkey hunting.  Many turkey hunters have a favorite diaphragm (mouth) call but also carry box and slate calls as well.  You can never have too many calls.  Some also carry a tube call or two.

Turkey hunting is great fun either spring or fall.  But, in the fall the hunter needs to be more pro-active in scattering and then calling the flock back together.  In the spring, it is a matter of finding a lovesick gobbler and getting him to come to you.  Fall turkey hunting is another opportunity to harvest a bird using your skills.


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