Even though the Fall Turkey season has been open since October 6th the DNR reminds hunters that plenty of leftover fall turkey licenses are available for purchase for many of the wild turkey management units. Licenses remain available for 12 of the 17 hunts that run through Nov. 14. Most of the leftover licenses are for private land only, but many general licenses, which are valid for both public and private land, remain for two units: Unit M in the Upper Peninsula, and Unit J, which includes Emmet, Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Antrim, and Otsego counties. Fall turkey seasons are used as a means of controlling turkey populations in areas where populations are high.
An important component to successful fall turkey hunting is locating birds. Scout for tracks, fresh droppings and feathers. Good areas for sighting flocks are in idle fields and woodlands and near logging trails.
In fall, turkeys spend most of their time feeding on insects and mast crops like acorns. Locate a good food source where birds are congregating and learn the habits of the birds. An important component to successful fall turkey hunting is locating birds. Scout for tracks, fresh droppings and feathers. Good areas for sighting flocks are in idle fields and woodlands and near logging trails.
Listen for the sounds of birds scratching in the leaves or listen for their "flock talk" as they come and go to roost. Roosting flocks may produce a wide variety of "yelps", "clucks", "kee-kees" and "gobbles." Once a flock has been located, one hunting tactic is to scatter the flock. Approach the flock within 50 yards and flush the birds so they will scatter. A dispersed flock normally will begin to regroup within 15 to 30 minutes near the original point of separation. Quickly set up at this spot. Begin calling the turkeys by imitating the same sounds made by the birds as the flock begins to reassemble. Poults will give the kee-kee lost call mixed with yelps and clucks. Answer every turkey call heard with similar tone, pitch and rhythm. Using a decoy also may help fool birds into approaching your location.
Successful hunters sit still and allow the birds to come to them. Being camouflaged does not make you invisible. Movement is the greatest enemy of the turkey hunter. A turkey can detect and react to movement 10 times faster than a human. Even though camouflaged, you still are an unnatural form in the woods. Do not attempt to stalk a turkey. First, that gobbler or hen you are stalking may turn out to be another hunter. Second, your chances of success are poor. At best, you might get a glimpse of tail feathers. Do not jump and turn at a turkey approaching from behind. The chance of getting a good shot is very slim. Be patient, remain still and let the bird pass.
Assume another person is making every sound you hear. Many turkey hunters are very convincing callers. Always keep a safe distance. If a bird turns out to be another hunter, it could be very dangerous. If another hunter is working a flock, do not interfere by calling or spooking the birds. Always give other hunters the same respect that you expect.
In fall, both hens and gobblers are legal targets. Make sure the bird is within range of the shotgun and shoot at the neck and head only.
Know the capabilities of your gun or bow and use it safely.
Be positive of your target. Once you pull the trigger, it is too late!
Written By: Mike Girolami, President of WorkWear1, www.workwear1.com, a Local Distributor of Carhartt Clothing, Redford MI