Editor’s note: Here’s the second installment of the fall hunting series from our friends at Best Turkey Decoy, featuring a video and the wisdom of Dave Constantine.
Finding the Sign of a Group of Fall Turkeys
When the leaves start to turn, turkeys flock together in groups of like birds to spend the winter together. Hens and their young join other similar groups, and toms and jakes group up and populate other areas. You will often find them feeding together, but one thing is constant: They leave a lot of sign.
The easiest sign to identify is scratching. When turkeys feed on waste grain, seeds or acorns, they are constantly scratching the ground with those powerful feet and legs. While scratching, they flips leaves and other debris aside to expose items they want to eat. All that scratching leaves patches of bare ground we identify as a turkey feeding areas. Find fresh scratchings, and you will find turkeys.
Back off and Watch
Our first inclination is to set up and hunt, but that is not always the best course of action. If you back off and observe the area, you can figure out the time off day your turkeys are visiting, and whether they are hens or gobblers. Trail cameras can also get the job and can be a real time saver. By learning when the birds are using the area, and where they were before and after, you can often set up a better plan for that first sit.
Fall Turkeys Are Creatures of Habit
Barring a hard frost that changes food sources or a substantial change in the weather patterns, fall turkeys become very predictable. What they did yesterday is likely what they will do today and tomorrow. If we take our time to unravel the turkeys’ comings and goings, we can set up the best plan to intercept and hunt them. Scattering and calling birds works as well, but if we take advantage of this predictable fall nature, we are almost assured action when afield.