What is it about autumn turkey hunting that is so special? Many things, of course, but one of them is the tactic of using a well-trained dog that can scatter a flock and then wait patiently with a hunter for the final shot.
This traditional way of hunting is about more than just killing a turkey, though. It’s about the training, companionship, hard work, mistakes and successes, and good work between two hunting partners. Here’s three reasons you should have a turkey dog for autumn hunting.
By Steve Hickoff
For Turkey & Turkey Hunting
Dogs Smell Better
Well, maybe not after a day afield, but definitely as far as their scenting abilities go.
Consider this example from a Vermont fall turkey hunt. I wanted to walk a game trail to a mountain top, because that was the direction fresh turkey droppings were leading. Plus, to my human legs and mind, it was the path of least resistance.
My dog had other plans.
“Midgey come,” I demanded.
My turkey-crazed English setter ignored the command, and moved west and away from me, up a hilly rise.
I glanced in that direction to see fresh scratchings beneath ground cover — sign I would have missed otherwise.
Why flush wild turkeys with a dog?
Flocked birds will want to regroup. Four-legged hunting companions simply scatter turkeys better than you can, assuming they’re trained to the task.
Admit it. The prospect of you lurching and stumbling toward a turkey flock with a loaded shotgun is not an effective proposition.
Yes, it can be done. You can put your firearm down where you’ll be sure to find it again, use concealing terrain to sneak closer and then rush the birds to get a good break. No matter how well you separate flocks, though, a dog will likely ace your turkey flushing efforts.
There’s just something about hunting turkeys with a dog that’s flat-out appealing.
It combines the companionship and trained skills that gun-dog enthusiasts enjoy while pursuing other upland birds and waterfowl.
Tagging a fall turkey with the help of a dog adds to the experience.
Editor’s Note: Steve Hickoff is the author of Fall & Winter Turkey Hunter’s Handbook. For more information on his book visit hickoff.blogspot.com.