Fall turkey hunting can be one of the best times of the year to bag your bird. Here's why you shouldn't do it.
First of all, I've hunted for fall turkeys many times and it's a very productive way to hunt. The fact remains that there are a few reasons why you might want to rethink the process and wait until spring.
Wild turkeys are the last thing most folks think of when the fall hunting season comes around, what with bowhunting season about to begin, pheasants to chase, and waterfowl hunting right around the corner. But the reality is that many if not most states allow for a fall season on one of our favorite game birds: the wild turkey.
With that in mind, the issues of hunting these birds becomes one of arguments against it, and not so much if is it feasible to do so. Since every state has differing rules of engagement for fall turkey hunting, and even many regulations that are the same, it stands to reason that some of these may not have to apply to every area that allows for the bagging of an autumn gobbler.
This is the number one reason not to go turkey hunting during the fall season. For the most part, (and I'm going to lean on the New York hunting regulations as I know them the best) bow season starts right around the first of October which only gives bowhunters a couple of weeks in the woods with all the leaves still on the trees before turkey season begins.
Add to that some guy sitting on the ground calling in the woods near you, and most likely not scent free, and you may as well kiss your target buck goodbye until firearms season starts in November.
In New York as in many states, hunters can use their favorite gun dog to hunt wild turkeys in the fall. One standard technique is to break up a flock, sit in, and then begin using the "kee-kee" run call to try and gather them to you.
For many, this constitutes a bad way to treat one of our favorite wild game birds since the winter is coming and feeding birds need all the food they can gather for the coming cold weather.
New York allows for hunters in the fall to take one hen turkey during the open season in October. This can really cause a burr under the saddle for those who treasure this prime upland game bird species since these matriarchal members of the turkey clan are responsible for nesting, egg rearing, and the raising of the future members of the species.
Pheasants and Waterfowl
With October comes the open seasons for ringneck pheasants and every one of our favorite duck species. Add to that all the great eating you're going to miss, why would you ever want to try and fill the freezer with one turkey?
Spending time in the woods annoying some bowhunters who have been waiting to chase the wily whitetail deer all year isn't bad enough. October is the time of year when large and smallmouth bass, muskellunge, and northern pike hit anything that moves.
Even worse, in many states the salmon and brown trout begin their fall spawning runs, and what's worse than looking at pictures of monster fish someone else caught while you're getting a wet backside in the woods.
The Final Word
We have immense trust for the men and women of the outdoor science community for their hard work, dedication, and love of the outdoor world. When everything is said and done and these outdoor biologists have given their all to make hunting, fishing, and the outdoor life a shared thing for everyone, and if they say that it is ok to hunt turkeys in the fall, take one hen if you want, and even use a dog, then by all means do so.
However, just keep in mind this. For so many of us that work hard, save our money, and plan to hunt and fish, it is a difficult prospect to be able to do all of these things in one season. Sure, we could go bowhunting one day and turkey hunting the next, but when we can hunt wild turkeys in the spring and not whitetail deer, then it behooves us to make a choice.
And that choice should be to wait until spring when the Toms are strutting and gobbling during their breeding season and no one is trying to bow hunt.
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