Fall Turkey Hunting

By Naomi K. Shapiro

Turkey hunting is a very exciting sport, and many hunters have taken to the woods hoping to get that big tom during our current spring season. But don't forget - -at least in Wisconsin - -there is also a fall turkey season, and now is the time to start thinking about it. It's true that in the fall, the birds are harder to kill, BUT, in the fall, unlike the spring, you can kill either a hen or a tom (again, this is based on hunting in Wisconsin - -regs vary by area and state - - check yours out before hunting).

The reason it's harder to kill a turkey in the fall is that unlike in the spring, when the turkeys are mating, and toms are going crazy looking for "companionship, and are attracted by decoys and calls, in the fall all the turkeys are interested in is feeding. So, while in the spring, decoys and calls will get a bird to move into your area, in the fall, they'll just "yawn" as you call them, and probably not even come close to one of your decoys.

What some fall bow deer hunters do, is get a turkey tag, and put a few turkey based arrows in their quiver. If they happen to run across a bird, they may get a "two-fer" - -a 30 point buck, and maybe a 50 pound turkey (OK - -so I can dream, can't I?!).

There are of course many dedicated fall turkey hunters. What the savvy hunters do is look for a crop field, or oak ridge, and scope out the patterns that a particular flock is using. And one thing you can count on – if there's a food source, the turkeys will return to it every day at the same time like clockwork. So, if you know where they're going to feed set up on the track or on the field edge. Calling won't work. Decoys won't work. Don't forget that. Travel "light."

Another little secret is to find out where the turkeys are roosting at night, and set up below their roosting area - -and yes, that means getting up while its still "black as coal," in the dark of the pre-morning, and before the turkeys get up. Sort of the true "early bird catches the worm" - -or in this case the "big gobbler." And when they do get up, and if you're well concealed, they can and will come down right near you. However, if you're noisy, or ill concealed, they'll see you, and they'll just fly off in the opposite direction.

And in the fall, if you do get that prized gobbler, your family and friends will have the best turkey dinner of their lives - -and there's no need to wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy it. Indeed, as we have said any number of times, once you eat wild turkey, it's very difficult to go back to a domestic bird, again.