Fall vs. Spring Turkey Hunting
By: Dylan Hayward
A common topic amongst avid turkey hunters is how the fall season compares to the spring season. There’s no doubt that spring turkey has a unique form of excitement due to the peak breeding season.
Calling is extremely effective during the spring season, but there’s something really great about being able to hunt deer and turkey in the same season, and generally speaking, there’s a lot of crossover with the hunts.
I feel hunters can often overlook how productive fall turkey season can be, because they are so focused on prime deer hunting, which is understandable.
However, fall turkey season can be a great way to scratch that turkey itch in October and November. It can also give hunters another chance to fill their turkey tag if they missed their shot in the spring.
As the spring turkey season is fastly approaching, it’s hard not to think of all of the exciting moments that come with it.
The toms will be eager to find a hen to breed, thus making them extremely susceptible to calling from hunters.
Being able to communicate with the tom and draw him in little by little is one of the reasons that spring turkey is so special. There’s a connection with nature that comes with calling spring turkeys that is unmatched by any other hunt I have been on.
Sure, you can call deer with grunt tubes and you can get bugling elk to react to your cow calls, but the back and forth with turkeys has no other comparison.
While fall turkey season has its pros, the activity and intensity that comes with the spring season makes it one of the most exciting and challenging hunts out there.
Spring turkey season requires much more strategy than the fall season.
Fall turkey season starts towards the middle of October in most states and can run as late as the end of December in some states.
While it’s generally much easier to find turkey flocks in the spring due to the thunderous sound of gobbles echoing throughout the woods, fall flocks can be a lot more challenging to spot.
Spring turkeys will typically roost in the same general area, which could consist within only a few acres. During the fall, turkeys expand their range dramatically, sometimes traveling over 400 acres.
One of the keys to hunting fall turkeys is to focus heavily on preseason scouting.
In order to scout for fall turkeys, you need to locate a primary food source. A good food source to scout would be a cut grain field or a green food plot that will allow turkeys to feed on bugs and other insects.
When I am scouting for fall turkeys, one of the key signs I search for are turkey feathers in my food plots, along grassy logging roads or cut bean fields.
Another promising sign to look for is turkey scratching. Turkey scratches are typically made in a V shape and will likely have claw marks throughout them.
This will create bare ground with leaves or other debris pushed up around it. Turkey scratches are often about 10 to 12 inches long but can vary depending on the age of the bird, or whether it was done by a hen or a tom.
If you can find a scratch that looks like multiple turkeys have scratched on top of it, you are likely in a good spot.
Both fall and spring turkey season have their benefits. Both offer a different set of challenges that will make the hunt that much more rewarding when you do punch your tag on that longbeard you have been chasing after.
Whether you’re hunting spring or fall, make sure you have a plan going in.
The great philosopher Lucius Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
If you go in with a plan, chances are you’ll get an opportunity at a bird.