Turkey Calling Tip: Make Fall Flock Talk
Make fall flock talk this autumn turkey season to call birds into range.
Sure, scattering autumn turkey flocks on foot (or with a trained dog where legal) is one tried and true tactic for hunting fall birds. You then try to call the separated group back to the break site; often as singles or several birds as they attempt to get back together. It works often enough, unless the brood hen beats you. Another turkey calling tip is to make fall flock talk. You can call the group to your position. Sure, some will say it can't be done. I've heard the talk. Mention this to any veteran fall turkey hunter and they'll grin; maybe even politely amend the error in thinking. We know better.
The tactic worked for me last week during Maine's fall turkey shotgun season.
My dog Luna and I had hunted several different towns during the course of the short Maine fall shotgun turkey season, finding birds, playing with some of them, enjoying the deal. Sometimes just finding and scattering flocks is at times enough for a dog guy. We mixed it up. I'd walked the bigwoods alone trying to locate flocks with a long box. A buddy and I hunted together, and apart. Mornings and afternoons (with breaks to work at this desk) had been enjoyable and varied. On the next to last day of the season though (last Thursday, October 18), the thought of closing the deal crept into my mind like a turkey walking into range. I needed a bird. To get one by the feet though, I had to call a whole flock in.
Land you hunt is no doubt fragmented: you have permission in some spots; these areas might flank posted property. You may not want to scatter the flock. It's probably one the bigger challenges we have at times. Calling turkeys to the position where you can hunt is perfectly legal. Let's re-run that morning. A mixed turkey group of several different ages flew down in the far pasture corner of the farm I hunted; maybe 20-plus birds (brood hens, birds of the year, fall gobblers, you name it). There they fought, preened, filled their crops, and otherwise tormented me. They were maybe 150 yards to a couple football fields away. Had they gone further east, we would have tried to scatter them. After a bit, they drifted back into the woods.
Finished? No way. I pulled out a Basehore scratch box and gobbler yelped (a slower, three-note yelp you'll hear in both the fall and spring woods). Then I followed with a Roberts Brothers glass and slate call (clucks, cutting and fighting purrs). At the same time, I ran kee-kees and kee-kee-runs on a Cane Creek Calls "Lost Poult" diaphragm call. Making flock talk like this can work in the fall and spring. I waited, called, listened. It felt like something might be happening. And then I heard a response. I called back. Not long after, the woods around me erupted with every imaginable turkey vocalization you might hear, including gobbling. My flock talk had pulled them away from where I couldn't go. They walked the distance to where I had long held permission (over the past 20 some years, mind you).
Problem is, the big group came in to my hard right. As a right-handed shooter, I couldn't turn. I had to let them walk out of sight and past me. Game over? Hardly. I butt-shifted into better position and hit back with a kee-kee-run. The woods lighted up again. Here came the heads, walking back into range, periscoping up and looking. When a nice fall gobbler got to within 15 steps, I pulled the trigger.
I can still hear those fall turkeys calling all around me. Flock talk had pulled them in.
Steve Hickoff is Realtree's Turkey Hunting Editor.