Hunting in fall versus hunting in spring is a whole different issue. While in spring, the turkey is preoccupied on his sex drive and the taking of hens. In fall, other things trigger the turkey’s natural behavior. Since the turkey is not busy with the courtship of hens, he is more concentrated on the surroundings and may be harder to hunt. In the fall, in contrast to spring, hunters are allowed in many states to shoot all the turkeys, not only the male ones. In this season, turkeys are preoccupied with safety, food and their social ranking. While in spring hunting, strategies are related to breeding. In fall, other strategies have to be used.
In the fall, turkeys are all about the food. It stands to reason that if the hunter finds the food source, he should be able to bag a turkey and take it home. For birds that do not travel south just like many other animals, which endure the winter, building a fat reserve is what they need to survive. Greens and bugs in meadows, as well as other fields and the harvested grain fields attract turkeys. Turkeys love to eat corn, wheat, sunflower seeds, barley and soybeans. Even after those fields are tilled and turned, there is food for turkeys such as worms and other ground insects. In a remote area where there are no fields nearby, turkeys rely on other food sources such as hard mast. Hard mast can include acorns, hickory, chestnuts and many other available nuts.
Since turkeys will most likely be where the food is, the best way to find the turkey is to know about the birds feeding habits and the places that turkeys feed. In some years, when nuts and acorns are plentiful, hunting is much harder than in years when the harvest is scarcer. With acorns falling from every tree, a hunter cannot predict where the gobbler might be, but in rare years, there area limited places that the gobbler can find food. These are also the places the hunter must find to catch and harvest the bird. Besides the above mentioned, turkeys will also enjoy eating berries, apples, persimmons and other available fruits.
In fall, turkeys gather in flocks to protect themselves. More birds means more eyes and ears to hear predators and hunters come along. Therefore, camouflage is in fall even more important than in spring. Needless to say that an experienced fall hunter knows to sit and hold still and should avoid any unnecessary movement. Hunting turkeys in fall is much more of a challenge than in spring due to their survival instinct that has set in with the upcoming winter.
To be successful in turkey hunting in fall, it is essential to scout the area and know the places very well. The hunter needs to know where the birds roost and where they feed. The best way to catch a bird is by setting up somewhere midway since it is easier to harvest a bird this way. In this situation, different calls from summer can draw in a bird looking for the safety of a flock or for the leader of the group. The sense of safety and to get the bird closer can be achieved by using decoys if allowed.
The different birds can then also be drawn in with different set up scenarios. A big tom can be called for a fight in the pecking order, a hen can be called to protect her young ones. A jake can be called to have a rivalry with another jake. There are different calls and time intervals that have to be used to establish such a situation for the bird. Once the hunter figures out the differences in the seasons, the hunt can be just as much fun and a challenge. Maybe a turkey will be bagged at the end for Thanksgiving dinner.