Find turkeys this fall season by using one of the following strategies:
Move like a turkey
To locate autumn birds by calling, you have to get inside their comfort zone.
Move slowly while locating autumn flocks. Look ahead and listen. Walk carefully and don’t step on sticks. Use edge cover to hide your movements and don’t ever feel rushed.
Cold calling quiet turkeys
To get silent birds talking, you have to think like a turkey.
Fall turkeys talk plenty. Get autumn birds fired up with calling. Mimic, note for note, the calls you hear from nearby or distant birds. If they call with a kee-kee or kee-kee-run, do the same. If the turkey calls with a plaintive lost yelp, respond with an “I’m here” cluck or match its call.
Calling age groups
To tag the turkey you want, selectively call to younger and older birds.
A variety of fall calling options can be used to locate and call in a specific bird. If you’re hunting family flocks, you’ll kee-kee or kee-kee-run to try and pull one in. If it’s a group of broodless hens, clucks and yelps will work to lure them in. For male-only flocks, use gobbler calls — clucks, yelps, gobbles and even fighting purrs — especially right after fly-down as pecking order is again tested. Let the hunting situation reveal turkey flock composition and what calls you should use.
Vary tone, pitch and cadence
To call realistically, focus on vocalization specifics.
Right before and just after fly-down, flocks sound like barnyard birds, try to match that intensity. Back off a bit during the day and be subtle. If that doesn’t work, make like a rowdy flock. Nearby birds will hear your vocalizations and sometimes answer or come in for a look.
Break it down
To see the big picture, think about the turkey’s daytime patterns.
Think about autumn hunts as phases of the day; roost locating (early morning and late afternoon), striking birds by calling to them on their way to feeding zones, and finding those hens and gobblers in favored foraging and midday loafing areas. Fly-down birds will call to one another, feeding zone turkeys often purr and midday birds might rest silently near dusting bowls.
Hunt autumn family flocks and adult hen and gobbler groups to get schooled in calling variations. Listen as you hunt. You’ll become a better spring turkey hunter too.