Walk-em-up Turkeys

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1998

Last revision: Nov. 2, 2010

Mention turkey hunting in Missouri and people think of spring with its blooming dogwoods, the resonant calls of whip-poor-wills and misty dawns with turkeys gobbling in all directions. No wonder that at best, fall turkey season often gets second billing. Some hunters ignore it entirely. Fall turkey season is a different ball game than spring, but one with its own set of challenges and thrills. Getting close to a flock of turkeys in a large tract of forest can be every bit as tough as trying to talk a spring gobbler into shotgun range. Fall is also a super time to be in the woods.

I like fall turkey season because it is hunting in the most active sense. Hunting for deer, waterfowl and doves usually requires you to sit and wait, but wild turkey hunting in the fall requires actively seeking out a quarry.

But before venturing out in the woods, it's important to understand a little about turkey life in the fall. Mating season is long over, so you're not likely to hear any gobbling. Fall turkey flocks are segregated into two main categories: smaller groups of adult male birds and larger groups of adult hens with this year's youngsters. A third category consisting of adult hens without young is more common in years when the hatch is poor. Remember, it is legal to kill birds of either sex in the fall.

The most common fall turkey hunting tactic is a simple one: locate and scatter a flock, then call to the birds as they attempt to reassemble. This strategy is more effective with groups of young birds than adult gobblers. Young birds need the security of the flock and will respond readily to calling after they have been separated.

The most important consideration is the same as it is for real estate-location, location, location. You have to locate the birds before you can shoot one. Here are some things to keep in mind that will increase your odds of locating turkey.

1 Be an early bird. Get out before dawn, find a good vantage point and listen. You may hear birds fly down from their roost. You may also hear calling. Young birds in particular are quite vocal after leaving the roosts. They want to re-establish contact with the flock and be assured that all are present and accounted for after spending the night in the trees. This is your best opportunity to

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