Fall Wild Turkey Hunting Tips, Ethics and Safety
A key component of successful fall turkey hunting is locating birds. Good areas for sighting flocks include idle fields, woodlands and around logging trails. Scout for tracks, fresh droppings and feathers.
Locate a good food source, around which birds are congregating - in the fall, for instance, turkeys feed on insects and mast crops like acorns - and learn the habits of the birds. Listen for the sounds of birds scratching in the leaves or for their "flock talk" as they come and go to roost. Roosting flocks may produce a wide variety of yelps, clucks, "kee-kees" and gobbles.
Once you have located a flock, one hunting tactic is to scatter the flock. Approach the flock within 50 yards and flush the birds so they will scatter. A dispersed flock normally will begin to regroup near the original point of separation within 15 to 30 minutes. Quickly set up at this spot and, as the flock begins to reassemble, begin calling the turkeys by imitating the same sounds they make. Answer every turkey call you hear with similar tone, pitch and rhythm. Using a decoy also may help fool birds into approaching your location.
Successful hunters sit still and allow the birds to come to them. Because a turkey can detect and react to movement 10 times faster than a human, movement is a turkey hunter's greatest enemy. And remember that camouflage does not make you invisible - even though camouflaged, you are still an unnatural form in the woods that birds will notice.
Do not attempt to stalk a turkey. Your chances of success are poor and, at best, you might get a glimpse of tail feathers. More importantly, that gobbler or hen you are stalking may turn out to be another hunter, a potentially dangerous situation. Many turkey hunters are very convincing callers, so assume that another person is making every sound you hear and always keep a safe distance. If another hunter is working a flock, give that person the same respect that you would expect and do not interfere by calling or spooking the birds.
Do not jump and turn at a turkey approaching from behind. The chance of getting a good shot is very slim. Instead be patient, remain still and let the bird pass.
Know the capabilities of your gun, crossbow or bow and use it safely. Be positive of your target, make sure the bird is within range, and shoot at the neck and head only.