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Fall Behavior

Fall Behavior

A Lone Gobbler in the Fall
After the spring breeding season is over, the turkeys begin to break up into the sex and age classes they will stay in through fall and winter. Generally, you will find three types of flocks in the fall.

The most common type of flock will consist of one or more hens with their poults and occasionally young gobblers hatched the previous year (1 1/2 years old). Solitary hens who either lost their nest or their poults make up the second type of group. The most sought after, but hardest to locate groups, are the small bunches of gobblers. These bachelor groups can consist of anywhere from 1 to 20 or more longbeards and they will usually consist of birds of around the same age.

The gobblers will form family flocks when they are young and through the years this group gets smaller and smaller. This often leaves a solitary gobbler which spends all of its time alone. If you really want a challenge, try for one of these "hermit" gobblers. Even if they are still in small flocks, the oldest gobblers become very solitary after the spring season and are extremely difficult to locate and call in. A fourth type of flock will often show up later in the fall or early winter. Young jakes will often break away from the hens to form their own gangs.

Look for Black and White Barred Wingfeathers and Tail Feathers to Locate Roost Locations In the Fall

In the fall, the turkeys will also shift their home range from where they spent the spring and summer. During the spring and summer, turkeys rely mainly on a diet of grasses, seeds and insects. Once fall begins, turkeys may shift their home range several miles or more to locate sources for their fall diet of acorns, beechnuts, and agricultural crops like corn, soybeans and milo.

The timing of the shift from the summer and early fall range to the late fall and winter range depends a lot on the weather that year. If your area hasn't had a good hard freeze when your season opens up (often the case where I hunt in Kansas), the birds will often still be found in pastures and grassy areas where they will still be chasing grasshoppers and other insects and beetles.

The one nice thing about fall birds is they do eventually become pretty reliable in their routines. Unlike the spring, they will often use the same roost site night after night and they almost always have the same general pattern to their movements during the day. I've patterned flocks of turkeys in the fall and have found them to have an almost uncanny ability to keep to a schedule; sometimes down to the minute.

Fall turkeys are also a lot more vocal than birds in the spring. When a flock of hens and poults gets worked up in the fall they can make quite a racket. The poults will give a kee-kee run when they are separated from their mother and the mother makes assembly yelps to gather her brood back together. Listening to a flock of turkeys in the fall sort themselves out after coming down from the roost is a fantastic lesson in turkey talk.

Turkeys also spend a lot of time establishing a pecking order in the flock during the fall which means there is a lot of fighting going on between birds to find out who is more dominant. This makes fighting purrs especially effective calls in the fall because not many turkeys will turn down a good fight





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