I read articles by experts who suggest that to be a real fall turkey hunter, you should locate family flocks, break them up and then call birds back in. But if I can get close enough to birds to break them up, why wouldn't I just shoot one? — R.A. Arder
It's funny you should ask that. Some non-turkey hunting buddies said the same thing recently, and I'm not sure they bought my answer.
First, you won't get that close to a family flock of turkeys all the time. You must be pretty stealthy and avoid lots of eyes. But it happens, and such situations usually provide the best scatters. Some folks even fire their shotgun in the air to further ensure a good break-up.
I don't recommend that anyone shoot at running or certainly flushing turkeys. No one needs a bird that bad, spring or fall. If you choose to slip close to a flock, forgo the scatter and simply kill a bird, that's your choice. It's legal in most states. Further, hunting ethics are personal, so if you're OK with bushwhacking a fall bird, the decision is yours.
Most experienced fall hunters choose to scatter and call back turkeys for the full experience. Simply killing a bird doesn't take much. But when you whistle in responsive jakes and jennies, it's one of the most intense calling sessions you can ever experience.
Ultimately, you must decide how you want to procure Thanksgiving dinner. If you choose to bushwhack a bird, that's your choice, provided it's legal where you hunt. But if you scatter a family group and whistle birds to the gun, you've immersed yourself in the turkey's world and vocabulary — a much richer memory.