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Missouri's October Turkey Season

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2008

Last revision: Dec. 9, 2010

Late one afternoon last October, I sat in full camouflage with my back against a large black oak and a shotgun across my lap. My hope? To tag a turkey. Behind me and to the left, I heard the faint drone of a two-cycle engine. The sound grew louder. In seconds a four-wheeler bounced into view. I recognized the driver.

“Hey!” I yelled as he drove by on a logging road, 20 yards away.

The driver turned my way, came to a quick halt, and cut the engine.

“I didn’t know you were in here,” he said. “You turkey hunting?”Tur

“Yes,” I replied.

“I love spring turkey hunting,” the fellow answered. “But I don’t fall turkey hunt—too much like target practice.”

“Target practice?” I thought to myself. “We must not be hunting the same turkeys.”

Challenge

In fall, any turkey is legal game. Typically, hens and their young make up the bulk of the fall population, so you are more likely to tag one of them. That might seem easier, but many of those hens have outwitted predators for several years, and the young turkeys have incredible vision and reflexes.

Hunting turkeys, spring or fall, involves the same keys to success: locating turkeys; knowing where to set up to call; being patient; knowing when and when not to call; knowing when and when not to move; and shooting straight. To consistently tag turkeys, anytime, you have to do many things right.

This time of year, hens usually are running in flocks with their young, often up to 30 birds in all. Gobblers are flocked together in groups of up to 12 or so. One proven way to hunt turkeys in the fall is to locate one of these flocks, rush in and scatter the birds in different directions, then set up close to where you scattered the birds and call them back—taking advantage of the turkeys’ strong flocking instinct.

You’ve got to get close to the birds for an effective scatter. If you see the birds from 100 yards away or more and run at them, they will likely run or fly off together and have no reason to come back to your calls. You’ve got to get within 50 yards of a flock for a good scatter. That takes experience and woodsmanship.

It’s almost necessary for you to spot the turkeys before they spot you. A good pair of binoculars and knowing how to use terrain to hide your approach helps. Even

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