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Intro to Turkey Doggin’

Photo credit: JJ Reich

Wild turkey hunting in the fall with a dog is one of the most exciting types of hunting you can do. It’s very different from any other hunting adventure. Once you try this sport, you’ll fall in love with it for good.

In the spring, we have our sights only on gobblers. But in the fall, any wild turkey is legal including hens and jennies, in most states. This means a lot more birds are fair game.

It is always important to check your local hunting regulations before hitting the woods. Hunting with dogs is not legal in all states.

Watch Dogs Work

Dogs will search about 100 to 200 yards in front of you, with their nose to the ground, sniffing for turkeys. Once the dogs find a flock, they break-up the birds by chasing and loudly barking, scattering them in all directions. That’s when you’ll move in to the exact spot where the turkeys started to scatter. As you approach, you might see turkeys still running or flying up in trees, leaving the area all directions.

Set Up, Sit Tight

Just like a spring turkey hunt, you’ll set up a ground-level, turkey-hunting seat. The dog will come back and it will promptly lie down next to you, hidden with a camouflage blanket. If the dog is trained well, it won’t move a muscle or make a sound, until the hunt is over.

Call Like Crazy

Next, you’ll call like mad, in hopes that a lost turkey will hear your calls and come running in. Since the goal is to call the broken-up group back to you, the more calling you do, the more eager you will sound, bringing the turkeys in close. All turkey sounds are helpful: clucks, lost yelping, assembly yelping, kee kees, kee kee runs, cutting and even gobbling.

Keep Eyes Peeled

Action can start as early as 10 to 15 minutes after you start calling. But sometimes it takes longer, so just be patient. If you know some turkeys are still in the trees, listen for them to fly down. If you hear one, chances are you’ll probably see it soon. Otherwise, just keep your eyes peeled and try not to move much, while scanning for movement in the woods. Stay ready!

Fast and Fun Action

Here’s what the moment of truth might be like: You’ll hear several quiet lost yelps and clucks heading in your direction, getting louder every second. A flash of adrenaline will rush through your veins. The bird will step out in front of you. This is it! Tell yourself to calm down, concentrate on the bird in front of you, steady your aim, take a deep breath, and squeeze the trigger. BOOM! Your first fall turkey will hit the forest floor!

More Will Come

If you missed your shot or if you have other hunters with you that still have tags to fill, sit down, hide the dog and start calling again! If the scatter of the flock was good, it’s very common to have at least four or five opportunities in one set up! Just sit still, be patient and enjoy the fall action.

JJ Reich




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