Fall hunting has its own special challenges and rewards. Here are 10 tips to make you a better fall hunter and up the odds of a wild bird gracing your Thanksgiving table.
1. Rainy days shouldn’t get you down
Turkeys don’t like rain and when the sky is falling they prefer to spend the day in open areas, making it easier for you to locate them.
2. The beauties of beech mast
Beech nuts rank at the top of turkey's preferred fall food list. Find a tree laden with mast and you'll have a promising base for operations.
3. Twilight time is the right time
A good scatter can provide opportunities any time of the day but it is most predictable and productive after the birds have roosted. Scatter them at night and after spending the night alone, come daylight they will be mighty anxious for feathered company. Set up at the point of the scatter and as soon as you hear the first call, start calling.
4. Near-instant gratification with scattered longbeards
After a scatter, set up immediately, be on red alert, and watch for a longbeard to come sneaking back to the spot of the scatter almost immediately.
5. Double teaming
Dealing with fall turkeys can be best tackled in a team setting. Covering more ground, approaching flocks from opposite points of the compass and having multiple callers after a scatter is a bonus.
6. Terrain tricks
Ease along just below ridgelines and peak over occasionally, stay high at fly-down and fly-up times to hear and see better and take advantage of dense cover to get close to birds. Determine your ideal position and select a spot that gives you the best combination of being well hidden and positioned for a shot.
7. Patience pays
Don’t think all scattered fall birds will start yelping and kee-keeing right away when trying to reassemble. Be patient, get comfortable, stay hidden and be willing to wait them out.
8. Outdoing old hens
If you hear a turkey start calling non-stop, without changing position in the distance, it’s likely you’ve found a momma hen. Unless you shut her up, every bird in the flock will start moving her way.
9. The significance of sign
The competent fall hunter works diligently to master sign language. Be observant and notice scratching, tracks, droppings, and roost sites. Determine the direction in which a flock has fed, judge how old the sign is, and be on the lookout for dusting spots.
10. Understanding habits, habitat and fall diet
Know turkeys prefer to roost in evergreen trees after the leaves fall. They prefer open woods and fields, as opposed to thick cover. Food and safety, above all else, loom large in their fall wanderings. Keep these things in mind and over time your dealings with turkeys will become more predictable in what is a devilishly unpredictable sport.