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Fall Scouting Techniques

Fall turkey hunting is almost an entirely different sport than spring hunting. The techniques consistent from spring to fall are good scouting, woodsmanship and correct calling. I've found the most important part of fall turkey hunting is spending a lot of time scouting birds. If you can find a flock of either hens and poults or gobblers and pattern their movements, it's much easier to succeed using any of the fall techniques. It's always easier to call a turkey to a location he wants to go to anyway.


The best way to find turkeys in the fall is to concentrate on the three basic necessities. They must have food, water and a roost site.

Favorite food sources in the fall include white oak acorns, corn, soybeans and milo in my neck of the woods. I like walking the oak ridges and hollows looking for scratchings. Gobblers will scratch in a V pattern, putting one foot forward and pulling it back and then repeating it with the other leg. Gobblers also have a tendency to scratch out around the base of trees where the mast is often the most abundant. The V shape of their scratchings will also tell you the direction the flock is travelling.

Another good way to locate flocks of turkeys is to glass crop fields along creek bottoms or next to woods in the late afternoons to find feeding flocks.

Water can be at a premium during the fall season and you won't find turkeys very far from water at any time of the year. Turkeys will often leave tracks in the mud or on sandbars. A gobblers track is about 1/3 larger than a hen's track and the middle toe is about 3 1/2" to 4" long while a hen's is less than 3" long. It is also possible to tell a young gobbler from an old one. The older gobblers will usually have larger, knobbier joints on their foot. Sometimes a younger gobbler track will be larger than an older bird since the older birds have a tendency to walk on their toes.

Another often overlooked scouting technique which is very successful in the spring as well is to find a good dusting / loafing area. A dust bowl is a shallow depression in loose or sandy soil where the turkeys dust themselves to get rid of feather lice (See Picture on Left). If you can find one of these areas which has lots of sign including tracks, molted feathers and droppings around the area, there's a very good chance turkeys are using the location daily. Turkeys often spend time in these areas around midday.

Roost sites are by far your best bet and if you can set up on the route between a flock's roost and their favorite feeding area, your hunt is half over. Find roosting sites by watching and/or listening for flocks as they fly up at night. Or else, try walking underneath ridges to find the trees with piles of droppings under them.



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