Fall turkey hunting is a very different pursuit than spring turkey hunting, it has its own distinct flavor and unique strategies. On this episode I talk about five strategies for hunting fall turkey, the best times of day, and how to chain turkey hunts together with other game pursuits.

5 was you can hunt turkeys in the fall:

  1. Big Rifle Hunting – This involves using terrain to gain altitude where you can see big distances and trying to take a bird from long range.
  2. Small Rifle Hunting – This is most often done as an ambush technique or when trying to divert nearby birds into your area.
  3. Scatter and Call – This approach is used when you can get close enough to bust up a flock, hide, and try to call them back together. 
  4. Flush and Shoot – Similar to pheasant hunting, you push through areas with cover trying to flush birds and shoot them in the air.
  5. Slowly Stalking – Akin to still hunting deer, this approach focusses on moving stealthily through thick woods, trying to spot and shoot a bird before it sees you.

On of the best things about fall turkey hunting is you can also combine other pursuits, in some places you can hunt turkey and deer at the same time, or turkey and pheasant at the same time, or ducks, small game, and any number of birds. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you need super specialized gear to take all these types of game either. often you can use the same shotgun and the same ammo to hunt several different things, just make sure you are compliant with local laws.

You can shoot turkeys with steel, bismuth, tungsten, lead, or anything else that flies out of a shotgun or rifle if its legal. One of the best things new hunters can do when they are learning to turkey hunt is combine several pursuits to maximize their chances of coming out of the woods with dinner and to have the most fun.

In many areas you can take all different types of turkeys in the fall also, be them big toms, jakes, hens, or poults. Do not be afraid of taking a hen in the fall or a poult. Turkey winter survival rates are not as high as many think. There is a good chance that the turkey you shoot in the fall was not going to survive the winter due to lack of food, predation, or severe weather. Taking a fall bird has the most minimal potential impact on the turkey population. And a small turkey can be a very tasty meal, something you almost never find in a grocery store either.

The best guns for fall turkey hunting tend to be shotguns or small rifles. It may be a 12 gauge, 20 gauge or other shotgun, a shotgun combined with a rifle, or a smaller rifle such as as .22lr, .22 magnum, .17 HMR, a .22 hornet or a lightly loaded 223. Always check your local to laws to know what is legal and what the proper safety regulations are in your area.

Listen to the episode for all the details on strategy, gun choices, and much much more!

Clover is one of the best plantings for a new hunter when it comes to deer and turkey hunting. It is easy, fast, inexpensive, does not require big equipment, and grows back every year. On this episode I talk about the benefits and easiest ways new hunters can plant clover as a food plot.

Take Aways

  • Whitetail Institute Imperial Clover is the gold standard that all clover is measured against. You can get started with a microplot for about $20.
  • There are way cheaper clover options though. If you go to your local AG store you can often get white clover by the pound for half the price.
  • I have used both and gotten good results with both. But I would still lean towards the Whitetail Institute Imperial Clover if cost and scale were not major factors.
  • The clover is a great food source for deer year-round, I have watched them visit it daily in the middle of January and February and paw through several inches of snow to nibble on whatever is left.
  • Turkeys also find clover patches very appealing, especially in the early spring. They eat the clover as well as the bugs that live on and around it.
  • To prepare the ground there are two easy routes, you can whack the vegetation down to the dirt with a weed eater or do a few sprayings of Round Up with a cheap hand sprayer.
  • Normally you will want to put down some pelletized lime when you plant to help the PH. $20 worth is plenty for most micro plots.
  • You can add fertilizer in the spring or fall if you want. Ideally you want something like a 0-20-20. Clover doesn’t need nitrogen, it creates its own and it only feeds the weeds when you use it. My local AG store has 10-20-20, and I use that. 
  • To plant clover you need very minimal tools if you can see bare dirt, just a cheap hand spreader.
  • Upkeep is minimal, just re-seed in late winter/early spring wherever you see bare spots and you should be good to go.
  • You can mow or weed whack the clover in the summer if you are getting competition with weeds, typically the clover will grow back faster than the weeds and take back over.
  • There are some special herbicides that will kill grasses and weeds without hurting the clover if your clover gets overrun, but most people won’t need them.
  • Listen to the episodes for all the details.

Every time I hear someone laboring to try and make wild turkey meat palatable, it blows a fuse in mind. While turkey is delicious! On this episode I share secrets, that shouldn’t be secrets, for how to make wild turkey taste great.

Take Always

  • Here is the meat thermometer I mentioned in the episode.
  • Unfortunately, most hunters are not great cooks and most people’s approach to cooking game lacks some basic principles for preparing it well. 
  • Just because someone else says they like it and it tastes good does not mean they have any idea how to cook well. But that also doesn’t mean the meat cannot be cooked well.
  • Wild turkey is not chicken, don’t try to cook it like chicken!
  • Wild turkey is not store-bought turkey, don’t try to cook them the same!
  • Most people have no experience whatsoever cooking any turkey outside of thanksgiving style. There is a big knowledge gap!
  • Wild turkeys are lean well exercised birds. They MUST NOT be overcooked and dry out quickly.
  • Listen to the episode to hear the wild turkey cooking secrets. 

It is more exciting to hunt turkeys early when they are most vocal, but you can have just as much success later in the day. On this episode I talk both about the reasons and strategies to never give up on a turkey hunt.

Take Aways

  • A turkey’s morning tends to be cyclical, and if you understand the cycle, you can kill them even later on even if they don’t gobble.
  • You have turkey hunters, and you have turkey killers. The biggest difference is not experience or skill, it is mindset. 
  • If you hunt with other people, you want them to match your goals and level of enthusiasm
  • Turkeys can be completely silent and still come in. You need to always be alert.
  • Your odds are better when hunting around sign than with the unknown. Don’t be quick to abandon a good spot.
  • If you are in the woods you always have a chance, if you are hunting near sign you have a better chance, and if you are stealthy and still, you have the best chance.
  • Listen to the episode to hear the reasons and strategies for hunting after the birds quiet down. 

This is an often asked and misunderstood question when it comes to turkey hunting. Calling is a critical part of almost all turkey hunts, often it is overdone, and there are times when it should be completely avoided, at least temporarily. In this episode I share principles and common scenarios to help equip you for the many kinds of situations you may encounter in the turkey woods. 

Take Aways

  • There is no such thing as a call shy turkey. Turkeys are calling to each other all the time. There are human shy turkeys though.
  • You do not want to be perceived as an overly eager hen, because gobblers expect those hens to come to them.
  • If a gobbler can see you, and you call, he will expect to see a hen there and will expect that hen to see and come to him.
  • The worse you are at calling, the less you should call. Stick to the calls you are best with.
  • Do not stress over how good you sound, often turkeys don’t call well. The amount and intensity of calling are easy for even a novice to control.
  • Nothing works every time in turkey hunting, these are wild animals. 
  • Listen to episode to learn about when you should call or not call.

The first thing most people learn about turkey hunting is you have to shoot the birds in the head. But is that the whole story? On this episode I kick the tires on that assumption with some historical information and common sense to reveal the bigger picture.

Yes, of course, a head shot with modern turkey ammo and a good, tested choke is the best way to kill a gobbler. But it is not the only way, nor the only ethical way to do the job.

Since shotguns were invented, up until about the 1970s, shooting turkeys in the head was only practical at very close range. Hunters relied on big shotguns with high powered loads to deliver body shots. And of course, rifles were more commonly uses as well.

There are situations where body shots with the right shells can be very effective. But body shots should never be taken over a head shot, for 5 reasons I list in the episode. However, sometimes a body shot is the only shot presented.

Listen to the episode to hear the case for and against ONLY shooting turkeys in the head.

There is no ammo more effective for turkey hunting than tungsten shot. There is also nothing more expensive… On this episode I equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about the best ammo for you and your circumstances.

Take Aways

  • Not all tungsten shot is created equal. Watch this video to learn more: The Truth & Lies About Tungsten Shot
  • TSS (Tungsten Super Shot) is a brand of tungsten shot made by Federal, it is not a type of shot or a quality rating.
  • Other companies and brands make tungsten shot that is just as good or better than TSS, like BOSS who copper plates their tungsten shot.
  • True tungsten shot has a density of 18 g/cc. Don’t pay up for anything less.
  • Tungsten shot gives you more range than lead and more consistent turkey killing ability at mid and long range.
  • For anything closer than 30 yards, Tungsten is not worth it. Tungsten begins to become worth it at distances of 40 yards+.
  • Here is the ammo comparison I mentioned in the episode: 8 Turkey Hunting Ammos Put To the Test
  • Here is the main ballistics gel test I mentioned: BOSS Tom TSS vs. Winchester Longbeard XR
  • Listen to the episode to hear the case for and against tungsten shot. 

Most people assume a hunt is over once a turkey has been spooked. Sometimes this is the case, but sometimes you can have a good chance of success if you change your tactics. On this episode I talk about strategies for hunting a gobbler after he has been spooked.

Take Aways

  • Turkeys are spooked throughout the day by all kinds of things.
  • If being spoked caused them to be quiet and hide, they would never move or gobble.
  • It is true that a turkey will almost never return to the place where it spotted a hunter pretending to be a turkey. So you have to change tactics.
  • You need to think like a turkey, not like a turkey hunter.
  • Do not let giving up be you default response to a spooked turkey.
  • Time and distance can quickly heal a turkey’s anxiety. 
  • NEVER try to sneak up on a turkey to shoot it. That is often illegal and always unsafe.
  • Listen to the episode to find out how to hunt a turkey AFTER it was spooked.

If you hunt turkeys, it is only a matter of time before you run into turkey hunting marketing. The key to finding the right gear for you is to let the woods tell you what you need, not a catalog or big box store. On this episode I identify common turkey hunting marketing pitfalls, how to avoid them, and how to decide what kinds of things are truly worth your spending your hard-earned money. 

Take Aways

  • Remember the marketer’s job is to sell products. But it is not your job to buy them.
  • Turkey hunting is a sport where significant innovations are few and far between.
  • Never assume that the latest newest thing is of any benefit to you, no matter how compelling the case or packaging.
  • The best thing you can do is spend more time in the woods and let that experience guide you to what you need to buy.
  • Listen to the episode for more!

Putting a red dot or similar optic on a shotgun is very popular, it seems like everybody is doing it. But is it right for you? On this episode I talk about the pros and cons to help you make the best decision for you, and to help you see through some of the turkey hunting marketing hype.

There are situations where a red dot, scope, or other optic is a good idea for some people. But it can cause bigger overarching problems for others.

  • If you have problems with your eyesight, particularly in low light, a red dot or other optic may give you a new lease on turkey hunting. 
  • If you only hunt turkeys and you only use your shotgun for turkey hunting, an optic may help give you an edge.
  • If you are primarily a rifle hunter and are brand new to turkey hunting and want to try it out, a familiar optic might help you get your feet wet.
  • There are other situations where a red dot, scope, or fancy new optic may be a good fit for you as well. However MOST of the time I recommend that people DO NOT use an optic for turkey hunting. In fact, it can cause you big problems if you do in some situations. 

Listen to the episode to hear the whole story!