Fall turkey hunting requires different tactics than spring hunts.
Fall presents many choices and opportunities for people who like to hunt and fish--almost too many.
Hunters in both Indiana and Kentucky now have fall turkey hunting seasons. Indiana just opened fall turkey season a couple years ago.
Whether there too many options for hunters or whether fall turkey hunting is tough or for whatever reason far fewer hunters bag the birds during fall seasons.
Indiana’s fall turkey archery hunt season starts Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 30, and reopens Dec. 3 and runs thorough Jan. 1. Shotgun season is Oct. 19-30. Separate licenses are required for spring and fall seasons, and one bird of either sex may be harvested.
While most Indiana counties are open to fall turkey hunting, some are not. Among those counties where they may be hunted are: Perry, Spencer and Posey.
Most people who hunt fall turkeys find it considerably different than spring gobbler hunting. They also find it more challenging, and that says a lot. Spring turkey hunting itself is a test of outdoor skills.
Fall turkey season is different from the spring hunt when toms are attracted to calls due to the mating season.
And while fall gun hunting can be challenging, it is hard to imagine shooting one with a bow and arrow. But some people love it because of the challenge and also because it is one of the earliest hunting seasons.
Fall turkey hunting in simple terms involves less calling and more scouting to find the birds--at least that is the experience of most hunters. Some hunters say the secret to fall birds is breaking up a flock and then waiting for the birds to come back into shooting range whether with a bow or shotgun.
Matt Lindler, a friend who worked for the National Wild Turkey Federation suggests several tactics can be used successfully during fall hunts, depending on the locality and state laws.
“Historically, one of the most common tactics is to sneak up on a feeding flock, run through the middle of it to break it up. The goal is to get the birds to fly in different directions,” said Matt.
He then suggests using a “ki, ki” type distress call or a “lost hen” type call to encourage the birds to reassemble. “A long series of yelps (10 or 12) works, progressively getting louder and longer.”
According to Matt, a group of gobblers also will regroup, but it usually takes them longer.
As youngsters, it seemed time crawled. It seemed like the clock was in slow motion as kids awaited Christmas, or for school to be out, or a scheduled birthday party.
Now, after the years have pilled up, one on top of another, decade on top of decade, it seems the clock is spinning to set a new land speed record. Time races by. It seems like we should just be planting flowers and tomato plants, not digging them up with the arrival of fall.
These days it seems once Labor Day arrives, summer is gone. It really isn’t, but it seems that way. In fact, shortly after the Fourth of July, talk of youngsters returning to school is well underway.
Now, Labor Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean it is time to put away the fishing gear for the year. There probably is even time to use bathing suits a few more times.
For many, Labor Day marks the end of summer. It’s the time when guys who wear long pants, put away white pants for the year (does anyone wear white pants anymore?). It’s the time for high school, college and pro football, as well as the kickoff of hunting seasons. Squirrel and dove season already are underway.
According to the TV weather folks, we still can expect a number of hot days in September.
However, leaves are beginning to swirl to the ground. Their color is changing. The change is subtle, but noticeable. Seasons are changing.
Fall probably is my favorite season. However, I have very little enthusiasm for what follows. Winter.
It is true, Winter has some virtues, although the old brain in my head struggles to enumerate many. It seems the number shrinks as my age increases.
Summer really isn’t over. There will be more warm days and the water temperature is still warm. It is a time when big catfish are feeding prior to winter months. There isn’t a better time to land a big catfish. Their feeding frenzy, especially in rivers and big lakes, usually lasts through the middle of September when the water begins to cool.
And when the water begins to cool, it marks a time for crappie fishing action to pick up.
Crappie fishing can be as good in the fall as it is during the spring spawn. In fact, it can be just as much fun and productive as there are fewer people and boats on lakes and streams making noise and spooking the fish.
Fall crappie fishing can be a bit more challenging than spring action because often the fish are more scattered. They are harder to find. They also may be more unpredictable.
During fall, the water temperature eventually becomes about the same at all levels and crappie can be found at most any depth. However, once you find them, they can be caught.
During fall, a day in the outdoors can combine squirrel hunting and crappie fishing. My old friend Bayou Bill Scoffers used to call it “squirrelshing”.
A cookout with fried squirrel and fried crappie, and homemade slaw...It doesn’t get much better.
Late summer and early fall are when big catfish feed for winter.
Summer 2016 has been a bit unusual. That’s an unscientific observation. The Weather Bureau might not agree.
While some Kentuckiana areas have seen lots of rain, othesr have relatively dry. Some have been hot and humid, and other less so.
Anyway, mid-to late summer is usually the hottest part of the summer, and that is a time when fishing for most species is slow. However, catfish are a different story. Especially, for catfish in the Ohio River and its tributaries.
It’s the time of year when really big catfish start feeding to bulk up for the winter months ahead.
Over the years, some of the biggest catfish are caught from July through early September, a period known as the "dog days" of summer.
According to some historians, Greek poets Hesiod (ca. 750-650 BCE) and Aratus (ca. 310–240 BCE) refer in their writings to "the heat of late summer that the Greeks believed was actually brought on by the appearance of Sirius," a star in the constellation that the later Romans and we today refer to as Canis Major, literally the "greater dog" constellation.
Kentucky and Indiana share the blue catfish record (104.5 pounds) It was caught in August of 1999 from the Ohio River. Several other cats over 70 pounds were landed within a few days of the record catch.
Hot, steamy late summer weather usually means slow fishing for many species. Most fish seem to slow down just like anglers during hot weather. However, for cat fishermen, the dog days offer some of the best fishing activity of the year whether fishing in a rivers or lakes.
.Catfish can be caught anytime of the year and anytime of the day, but the most likely time to catch big cats would be in warm weather and at night. Catfish seem to prefer to feed late evening and early night. Some studies show there also is another significant feeding period in early morning, just before daylight.
Most cats go into deep, cooler, darker water in hot weather, especially during the day. But like everything else, there are exceptions. They often will come up to feed in early evening,
Not all catfish are alike. There are a number of different species of cats and they have different habits, including what they prefer to eat. Blue cats and channel catfish will bite on night crawlers, chicken livers, cheese and stink baits, and minnows.
Channel cats at times can be aggressive. I’ve had a number of channels strike bass lures. What I anticipated was a big largemouth turned out to a feisty channel
Flathead catfish, who earn their name from the shape of their head, prefer a diet of live fish, and among their favorites are shad, skipjack herring and bluegill.
Of the big cats, most anglers agree that the flathead is the best eating.
Small channels are tasty, but a big one caught this time of year is best returned to the water. The same goes for blue cats, however where they are caught and how they are prepared can make a difference.
It seems there are almost as many ways to fish for catfish as there are cat fishermen. Some use rod and reel, others use trot lines, while others may use limb lines. Another fun way is with bottles or jugs, which work like big bobbers.
No matter what fishing method you prefer, these “dog days” and the early days of fall are good days for big cats -- catfish that is.