Indiana has so much to offer sportsmen in the fall. There is excellent crappie fishing, bass are hungry, deer season is on and waterfowlers are chasing birds.
One fall opportunity too often overlooked is fall turkey hunting. This year’s fall firearms season for turkey is Oct. 18 to 29.
Fall turkey hunting, nowhere near as popular as spring turkey hunting, is completely different. Gobblers bunch up in the fall and spend most of their time feeding. They don’t gobble regularly like they do in the spring while chasing hens, but they still vocalize.
There are plenty of ways to kill a fall gobbler. Busting up a flock and calling them back together is an exciting favorite tactic.
Ray Eye is one of the great fall turkey hunters of all time. He makes killing October toms seem easy while so many others believe it is a difficult endeavor. With a little experience and effort, you can become a successful fall turkey hunter.
Eye must be part turkey; I don’t know how else to explain it. The man just flat out speaks their language. After more than 50 years in the turkey woods, with hundreds of birds under his belt and countless turkey calling championships won, “Uncle Ray” is a living legend.
For many hunters, myself included, fall turkey hunting takes a backseat. There are a lot of other outdoor options in the fall, and many spring turkey hunters are unsure of how to pursue fall birds. But many of those who are regularly successful in punching their fall tags say it’s easier than you may think.
“It’s not all about breaking up a flock. If you call with gobbler yelps in the fall, they will gobble and they’ll come, often times in bachelor groups. It’s a territorial thing. And to me it’s the prettiest time of the year. While spring is my favorite time to hunt turkeys, fall is my favorite time to be in the woods,” said Bobby Whitehead, editor of Outdoor Guide Magazine.
Turkeys can be patterned in the fall. If a hunter knows the local birds’ regular roosting feeding areas, then the hunter may be able to set up on a travel route.
This tactic has worked for me in the past. After watching turkeys on numerous occasions during scouting trips, I’ll set up on a particular field edge in hopes of catching a turkey on his way from his roost to feeding, or vice versa. Where acorns are abundant, turkeys spend more time in forested areas and do not have to range far to locate food.
I’ve started studying fall turkey hunting. I’ve watched some of Eye’s videos and have read a number of articles about fall turkeys. I’m excited for the challenge of taking my first fall gobbler. But even if I don’t get one, every minute I spend in the woods will be cherished.
“It’s just great to be out there. All the colors, it’s cool, no bugs, lots of turkeys and few hunters. It’s perfect. And most people hunt mushrooms in the spring, but it seems to me even more edible mushrooms pop up in the fall, like chanterelles, oysters and hen of the woods,” Whitehead said.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler writes a weekly outdoors column for the Daily Reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.