At first light on Monday morning, two turkey hunters were at the same spot near Stockton Lake, where on the opening day of the fall season last year, they took two turkeys.
They hoped the same thing would happen again this fall. Having scouted the area last week, they found turkeys using the area, so their hopes were high as they settled down in a grove of oak trees next to an open field and waited.
With a nearly full moon overhead and temperature in the 50s, it was another excellent day to be outdoors.
Just before legal shooting time, the turkey hunters heard the unmistakable sound of turkeys flying down from their roost. The birds flew in the wrong direction and were never seen again that morning.
"Everything was perfect until a bowhunter moved into the area where the turkeys were roosting," said Fred Harper, Bolivar. "Usually, we don't see another hunter in the fall, but I guess with all the deer and turkeys in the area and the growing popularity of archery hunting, it wasn't too big of a surprise to see more hunters. There's still plenty of time to get our birds and just being outdoors in the fall is great."
An increasing number of fall hunters bring more pressure and the turkeys change their habits. With bowhunting more than a month into the season, many flocks have been inadvertently flushed several times and as a result, they have grown smarter and harder to find.
Fall turkey hunting is much different from in the spring when hunters are looking and listening for an old gobbler to sound off. The birds talk a lot more in the fall, but they don't gobble nearly as much as in the spring. A gobble call can be effective and often a fighting purr will have the birds coming in to see what's going on.
Besides the rewards of hunting turkey in the fall, there are other things that make it worthwhile. Charlie Davis, Kansas City, said, "When I hunt turkey in the fall, it gives me the opportunity to scout places for the deer season; and in the past, I have flushed woodcock and quail that I might not have otherwise found for hunting later."
Usually, in fall turkey hunting, a hunter covers a lot of ground looking for a flock of birds. Smart hunters are always looking for deer sign since both turkeys and deer feed on the same things.
With the arrival of cooler breezes, the hunter's heart starts to stir. It's a great time to be outdoors as birds migrate, deer start the rut and squirrels busy gathering nuts in preparing for the lean months ahead and the fall color adds to the scene.
Wild turkeys add to the autumnal hunt as fall hunters match their skill, calling, and patience against an entire flock and all their eyes, ears and wariness give challenge to the hunter.
Remember, the turkey woods in the fall, especially on public land, are alive with other hunters; so exercise caution, and don't let the fact that you don't have to tell a gobbler from a hen blind you from the necessity of distinguishing a wild turkey from a hunter. Hunt safely and enjoy the last few days of the season and the tradition.