Fall can bring meat to the table, fun to the sportsman

[cleeng_content id="580496322" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Through the centuries, the hunting of turkeys has evolved from being a fall pasttime to one carried out in the spring of the year.

The Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving in their Massachusetts enclaves in the late fall. They ate mussels, waterfowl, deer and turkey – all of it harvested or felled just days before they held the community-wide meal whose purpose was to give thanks for their survival.

It hasn’t been just a recent trend that hunting turkeys in the spring is now the favorite outdoors recreation of many a hunter.

Turkey hunting in the fall can be just as challenging for those used to only hunting in the spring.

Turkey hunting in the fall can be just as challenging for those used to only hunting in the spring.

The Pilgrims survived the Massachusetts cold. Hunting turkeys and eating them had to help against the wicked New England winter.

Today’s introspective hunters look at the wood lots and the trees without their foliage. The briars and brush are a powder gray in color and the ground can be damp with fallen leaves.

But the adventuresome hunters don’t see the outdoors as being half-empty of its promise. They see the leafless thickets and matted grass fields as the half-full home grounds of turkeys.

Those out to play mind games with wild turkeys see the fall season as a valued opportunity to use their wiles against the fowl’s survival instincts and age-old habits.

Bagging a turkey in his backyard takes considerable patience and a healthy knowledge of the routine life the bird has shown for hundreds of years.

The preparations and pre-shot work of the turkey hunter are as valued by the sportsman as the actual moment when the shotgun of choice is unloaded on the bearded bird.

And while most people have an acquired taste for the Butterballs on their dining room table, the successful hunter relishes the succulent taste of a moist piece of breast meat from a wild turkey, much preferring it to any store-bought gobbler.

Turkeys display a different behavior in the fall than in the spring. The hens and poults group together and the toms have put aside their dislikes for one another and can at times be seen roosting together in groups of 50 or more.

Hunters will tell you making a fall gobbler tempted by much of anything other than curiosity isn’t easy. If the seasoned male hears what he thinks is another bird in his territory, he’ll come out to investigate. But he isn’t as interested as in the spring when he is chasing the hens.

The more skillful hunters tell of seeing lone birds with their binoculars. They report on how hurrying to get in front of the bird’s possible path and then while in wait tempting him with calls and clucks has met with some success.

A majority of fall hunters have used methods that will scatter a flock already off the roost and foraging for food. In an almost comical scene, they will move close to a group of hens and poults. As if they had been robbed of their senses, they charge toward the turkeys, waving their arms and yelling at the top of their lungs.

The plan is not to appear to be lunatics but to scatter the surprised birds in all directions. If the wild-appearing antics work, the turkeys only fly about 250 yards away.

Hunters have watched the puzzled birds get out of their way. They take seats. In a little while, the men start calling to the quarry. It won’t be long before the turkeys start returning from all directions, and with the proper calls, shots are ringing out in no more than 25 minutes.

A favorite method of the fall hunter is to find where the turkeys are roosting at night. After the birds have flown down from the trees in the morning, the men visit the area of the roost to make sure it is the bird’s nightly sleeping area.

Returning quietly in the darkness the next morning, the hunters wait for first light when the turkeys fly down from the roost and begin a daily search for food.

As the birds forage, they will softly call back and forth, keeping track of the other roost mates.

Clucks and “yelps” from the hunters toward the birds keeps the prey interested enough to come within range of the 20-gauge and even 12-gauge shotguns.

Some people will use a ultra-lightweight decoy to dupe the birds into investigating the new hen to the area. There are places that allow turkeys to be hunted with dogs. Others prefer to use their reeds to call in a bird too nosy for his own good (or life).

At any rate, turkey hunting in the fall still appeals to those who don’t even have any relatives that can traced back to the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts.

The eating is just as pleasurable. And following the time-honored outdoor rituals and plans for obtaining that white turkey breast are just as pleasing.

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