Although fall turkey hunting has yet to gain the popularity of spring gobbler hunting, taking a fall bird is both rewarding and a great way to gain confidence in one's calling ability.
For those with limited experience hunting spring gobblers, the entire calling process can be intimidating. Knowing when to call, how loud to call and what call to make can be overwhelming and challenging in the spring.
All of which makes hunting fall turkey such a confidence-building experience when it comes to calling birds. And, perhaps the biggest factor in favor of the fall hunter is they are working with nature when calling in the fall.
In the spring, when a hunter makes hen calls to a gobbler, they are trying to bring him into shotgun range. In nature, however, it is the hen that goes to the gobbler.
In the fall, after a flock has been scattered, a hunter makes calls trying to get the flock back together. In nature, this is exactly what turkeys do when they become separated.
One of the things that longer hunting seasons have done is educate hunters about how vocal wild turkeys are even during winter months.
Those who hunt during the post-Christmas flintlock deer season will occasionally here birds gobble on the roost in January.
Because wild turkeys are such vocal communicators throughout the year, they will respond to simple "clucks" and "kee-kee" calls in the fall. Calling fall birds into shooting range is easiest when using the traditional method of locating a flock, scattering the birds, letting the woods calm down and then begin calling to imitate a bird looking to rejoin the flock.
As both gobblers and hens are legal to hunt in the fall, another effective technique when hunting fall turkeys is calling periodically in hopes of attracting a bird that has become separated from a flock.
Troy Starr, the owner and founder of FearNot Game Calls in Valley View, said he and his son, Tye, often have success doing this.
"One of our favorite tactics that Tye and I use for fall birds is to setup on an oak flat and call," Starr said. "My dad calls it "blind calling," that is, calling to birds that you do not see or bust the flock apart, the traditional fall method.
"We will make series of lost yelps, which are simply yelps like used in the spring, except they are a longer series of yelps. Then, we mix in a few kee-kee runs, and after we make our calls, we play the waiting game.
"Often, we will call in our tree stands while deer hunting and the turkeys will come in sometimes two hours later. This works because turkeys are very social, and when they hear a call they will work their way to it to check out the new turkey in the woods.
"This method works great on hens and their flocks, but mature gobblers are a different story. They will sometimes come in, but for the most part they are not very social and could care less about any new neighbors, but the key to this technique is to have patience."
Starr said that on warm days during archery deer season when it overlaps with fall turkey season, they use this tactic to hunt turkeys during mid day. He said this also allows them to mix in some deer scouting.
"If we have a flock that roost nears us while we archery hunting, we will sneak in on them in the early morning and setup on them and call to them," Starr said. "My favorite way though is go in and bust them up off the roost."
As simple as this sounds, Starr said that sometimes a flock will fly off in the same direction and the turkeys remain together. When this happens, they are nearly impossible to call into shooting range.
Another advantage to hunting fall turkeys is there is no need to carry a large assortment of calls. In fact, a two-sided friction call, such as the FearNot Flipper, is all that is needed to make enough clucks, purrs and kee-kee runs to call in any bird.
And nothing, but nothing, is a bigger confidence builder for a turkey hunter than calling in their first turkey.