No Need to Always Scatter Flocks for the Call Back
Yes, you can call the whole fall turkey flock to your position and pick out the bird you want.
I'm a longtime practitioner of hunting fall turkeys with dogs trained to find flocks, scatter them, then sit quietly at the setup as you call separated birds back. It's a legal tactic in nearly 30 states around the country. But sometimes, hunting without a canine companion is in order.
Some of you might simply do your fall turkey hunting on foot, dogless - you're looking for another option. Yes, you can try to use terrain to get close enough to scatter birds on foot, but there's another way too.
Truth is, you don't always have to break up a fall turkey flock to call them in. Five tips follow.
1. Hunt Transition Zones
Study your local fall birds to determine where they roost and where they go to feed each day. Find preferred food sources. Make your setup between the two areas. Call now and then, coaxing them your way - or at least so they sound off to let you know their position.
2. Cold Call as You Move
In areas with plenty of ground scratchings, turkey tracks, dusting areas and fresh droppings, slowly move from setup to setup, calling as you sit for brief durations. It's possible to make contact with a group of fall turkeys that's also on the move, and pull them right in.
3. Call Like the Birds You Hear
If you hear a fall turkey call, imitate it. Young birds of the year make kee-kee vocalizations, so mimic them right back. If a gobbler yelps or gobbles, do the same, with safety in mind, as always. It's a good idea to mimic turkey vocalizations after a scatter, and also when calling intact fall flocks.
4. Never Give Up
I've had whole fall turkey flocks come in and drift off without a shot. I've also pulled them back not long after for a second chance. The trick is to get separation on the bird you want to shoot, so sometimes this is in order. If you can't, and want to make your hunt sporting, stand and scatter them, watching where each bird goes. Make your setup. Call when they start up again, or initiate it yourself. Expect individual turkeys or small groups to come back to you, the break site or close by as they regroup.
5. Get Ahead of Turkeys
Assuming you're in decent hunting shape by now, watch birds from a distance, note where they're going and get ahead of them. Use terrain to hike around the moving group, and make your setup. Call and they might just drift your way for a look. Turkeys are sociable. Use this to your calling advantage.
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[Editor's note: This Realtree.com turkey blog post was first published Oct. 18, 2016.]