Fall turkey season is tough hunting and takes back seat to other seasons
Fall turkey hunting is challenging, but dedicated hunters enjoy the sport. Photo courtesy Masolowski NWTF,
Turkey hunting can be tough in the best of conditions. Many hunters spend several years learning techniques and skills before bagging their first spring tom.
There’s a fall season as well, but not many hunters take advantage of it, maybe for a couple of reasons. There’s other game to hunt, and taking a fall bird is really difficult.
Throughout most of fall and early winter, hunters can use a bow to take a turkey. It is extremely challenging to take a turkey with a gun, and to harvest one with a bow is something few people try. But there are those who try and succeed.
In Indiana, turkey archery season opens Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 27, and then opens again Dec. 7 and continues through Jan. 5.
Firearm season opens Oct. 16 and continues through Oct. 20 or Oct. 27, depending on the county. A separate turkey license is need for fall hunting.
While it’s the same wild turkey whether hunted n April or October, the actions of the birds and the hunting is quite different,.
Hunting wild turkeys during the fall requires tactics different than those used during the spring season. The following tips from the National Wild Turkey Federation can help hunters bag more fall and early winter birds.
Bust'em Up--If done properly, busting a flock can be a fun and effective way to hunt wild turkeys in the fall. Once a flock has been found and the decision to break it up has been made, sneak as close as possible by using available cover.
--In a controlled manner, safely rush the flock while making as much noise as possible.
(A growing sport among some hunters is to use dogs to break up the flock. It takes a specially trained dog, but advocates say it really is a fun way to hunt turkeys.)
--If the birds spook in the same direction, mark their landing area and try to bust them again. You want the birds scattered in all directions.)
--Once you have busted the flock, set up and wait until you hear the birds calling to get back together. Start calling and let the birds come to you.
Unlike hunting turkeys during the spring, when toms can be found by the sound of their gobbles, fall hunters must rely on less audible yelps, clucks and kee-kees, turkeys scratching in leaves or flapping their wings.
And unlike the spring turkey hunting season, when turkeys typically roost, strut and feed in the same areas day in and day out, fall flocks range over a wider area in their search for food, sometimes not returning to the same tract for days.
The typical range for a fall flock is between 250 and 400 acres, depending on the habitat and availability of food.
Whether you limit your hunt to gangs of old gobblers or the more vocal hens and young-of-year birds, remember that the only thing on their minds is food. Turkey flocks will move throughout an area, scratching for acorns and berries among the leaves. They’ll also look for waste grain in fields that have been harvested or “bug” for insects along grassy lanes.
Despite not having the advantage of gobbling birds, large flocks often make a ruckus when they descend from their roosts and gather on the ground. Listen for the sound of frantic wingbeats, loud yelps and putts and the kee-keeing of young birds. Once gathered, flocks usually don’t call much, so the earlier you are, the better.