Fall turkey hunting offers many different rewards than spring season

Saturday, October 14, 2017
Fall turkey hunters look to bag a Thanksgiving bird.
Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Before daylight on opening morning, a turkey hunter was at the same location in Hickory County as he was on the opening day last year where he took a turkey.

He hoped the same thing would happen again this fall. Having scouted the area a month in advance, he found turkeys using the area, so his hopes were high as he settled down in a grove of oak trees next to an open field and waited.

With a nearly full moon overhead and, the temperature in the 60s, it was another excellent day to be outdoors.

Ken White, with a pair of fall turkeys that found the Thanksgiving dinner table last year.
Donna White | Special to Daily Mail

Just before legal shooting time, the turkey hunter 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.

ďEverthing was perfect until a bow-hunter moved into the area where the turkeys were roosting,Ē said Fred Harper, of Bolivar. ď Usually, we donít see another hunter in the fall, but with all the deer and turkeys in the area and the growing popularity of archery hunting, it wasnít too big of a surprise to see more hunters. Thereís still plenty of time to get the birds, and just being outdoors in the fall is great.Ē

An increasing number of fall hunters bring more pressure and the turkeys change their habits. With bow-hunting nearly 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 than 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 donít gobble nearly as much as in the spring. A gobble call can be effective and, often using a fighting purr will have the birds come in to see whatís going on.

Besides the rewards in hunting turkey in the fall, there are other things that make it worthwhile. Charlie Davis, Warsaw, said, ď 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.Ē

Usually, a fall turkey hunter covers a lot of ground looking for a flock of birds. Smart hunters are always looking for signs of deer since both turkeys and deer feed on the same things.

Both spring and fall turkey hunting can be great for different reasons. In the spring, hunters have those big toms that are gobbling. The possibility of finding some morel mushrooms is there, and fishing after the daily hunt ends at 1 p.m., can be very good, especially for spawning crappie.

In the fall, often the color in the outdoors can be exceptional. You may hunt all day and you might harvest two birds of either sex, plus gather some of fallís bounty ó including things like nuts, fruits and other goodies that are available. Also keep in mind that other turkey hunters arenít as numerous as in the spring, so the competition for fall turkeys isnít like it is in the spring.

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 most streams and lakes. Still, fall turkey hunting has itís followers. Both seasons are special.

With the arrival of cooler fall breezes, autumn coloring the trees and shrubs, the hunterís heart starts to stir. Itís a great time to be outdoors as birds migrate, deer start to rut, and squirrels are busy gathering nuts in preparation for the lean months ahead.

Wild turkeys add to the autumnal hunt as fall hunters match their skill, calling, stealth and patience against an entire flock and all their eyes, earís 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 donít let the fact that you donít have to tell a gobbler from a hen ó blind you from the necessity of distinguishing a wild turkey from a hunter. Hunt safely and enjoy the season and the tradition.

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