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Hunters ready for fall turkey season

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Another chapter in the successful modern day fall turkey season is set for the entire month of October.

Fall turkey hunting is different from the spring hunt and many hunters pass up the fall season to concentrate on other hunting or fishing, which is still good in many streams and impoundments.

Still, fall turkey hunting has its following as veteran hunters will tell you. The memories of the hunt will last at least until the opening day of the spring season in April.

It has amazed me how often hunting trips of only a few days or even hours have turned into real adventures magnified in importance by the pleasure of anticipation and the precious memories that never seem to fade away. The recollections of earlier hunts have been especially moving.

On my first fall turkey hunting trip, I remember the first light of morning showing in the eastern sky. That opening day, only a veteran fall turkey hunter could tell that there were a lot of birds in the area.

After setting out a pair of decoys near a field where turkeys had been seen feeding a few days earlier, this hunter was getting ready and didn't have to wait long before hearing birds talking from their roost some 75 yards away.

As the sun started to pop over the timber, the flap of wings from a pair of turkeys sounded from a tall oak tree. The birds settled down about 50 yards away and headed for the decoys.

It would have made a perfect video as the sun shown through the woods onto the field with at least a dozen turkeys feeding.

Finally, two toms appeared from the other direction. Although it was opening day and there were other birds around, the toms were very cautious. A soft yelp call helped move them closer and within gun range. Less than an hour into the season, a turkey was on the ground and would soon be in the freezer waiting to be the main course for Thanksgiving dinner.

Spring turkey hunters can always tell very soon that there is a gobbler in the area on opening day, but in the fall the gobblers don't usually sound off, so hunters don't have that advantage to locate birds. The turkeys do talk a lot, but they don't make some of the same calls. It's only after several fall hunts that a novice fall turkey hunter can recognize the turkeys from other sounds in the woods.

The gobbles that spring hunters hear aren't there in the fall. True, you might hear a gobble or two, but since the toms aren't as love-sick in October as they are in April, you just don't hear gobble after gobble. That doesn't mean there aren't turkeys around.

Both spring and fall turkey hunting are great, but for different reasons. In the spring, hunters have the advantage of hearing the toms gobbling. Plus, the possibility of finding morel mushrooms and fishing is at its best.

In the fall, the color can be exceptional, you can hunt all day and you may harvest some of the fall bounty like nuts, fruits and other goodies that are available. Also, there is a lot less competition for fall turkey hunters compared to the spring. Both seasons are special.

Jack Long, Springfield, said, "When hunting fall turkeys, you might walk 5 miles and never see or hear a bird. That's why I would recommend finding an area where you know the birds are around, pick a high spot, make a few calls and listen. If you don't hear turkeys, move to another area and try again. Since fall turkeys do a lot of traveling, they may be in one location one day and miles away the next day."

There are many hunters who feel that their chances of getting a turkey are better in autumn than in the spring. After a good hatch, there are new birds added to the flock and it is before losses from winter mortality occur. Logic dictates that there are more turkeys out there, so your chances of seeing one over the barrel of your shotgun within 40 yards will be better.

Long said he has a neighbor who hunts fall turkeys around public land on some of the big lakes and always finds birds, since they tend to gather near water sometime during the day.

There are other benefits of fall turkey hunting. Fall mushrooms are available to the hunter who can recognize them. Unlike the unpredictable spring weather, fall mornings can be cool, but warm up fast after the sun pops out. Also, there are fewer ticks and other hunters. You may hunt all day and take two birds of either sex the same day.

Fall is the best time for many turkey hunters, especially after a hot summer and the promise of good hunting.

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Ken White
Outdoor Living