In at least 10 states, fall turkey hunters have already taken to the field as seasons opened earlier this month. Among those, hunters in Missouri, Florida, Kentucky, Connecticut and New Hampshire are still limited to bows until the regular firearms seasons roll in sometime in October, while anything goes in Wisconsin, Montana, New Mexico, Idaho and Colorado.
For most hunters, the season opening will be a mid- to late-October affair. And whether you've already started hunting or are still eagerly anticipating it, the real question is have you pinpointed those flocks you'll need to jump on for that first week's success?
Hunters from Maine to Virginia are all reporting abundant young flocks, which will translate into extremely vocal and exciting hunting this season.
"Everybody has been seeing turkey flocks while driving around," says Primos Hunting Calls Pro Staffer and Virginia hunter Tommy Barham. "I think it's going to be a really good season." Barham, an expert working a tube call and an avid turkey dogger, lives for the fall season to give his turkey dogs a chance to do their thing.
And while things look good along the East Coast, hunters in Missouri and some surrounding states, hit by heavy rains and flooding in May as well as colder than usual weather, are concerned about flock numbers.
"We had a terrible hatch this year," Missouri's top turkey biologist, Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer told Kansas City's Info Zine. He blames the poor production on the combination of cold and rain. Warm weather in March caused some hens to next early. Then freezing temperatures in April and even into May ruined the hatch. As birds attempted to re-next, the later rains then hammered them.
Despite the poor outlook in the central Midwest, both Wisconsin and Minnesota news reports indicate exceptional hatches will greet hunters. That particularly good news in Wisconsin where the length of the fall season was expanded to 62 days.
Regardless of whether you've already begun hunting or are just getting ready, make the time to get out there and doing a little scouting. I'll have some top tips from some of the best fall turkey chasers out there to help you in the coming weeks. Also, we'll have a review of one of the only books I've seen in recent years to focus solely on fall hunting, Fall & Winter Turkey Hunters Handbook by OL and occassional Strut Zone contributor Steve Hickoff. If you're looking to pick your game up this autumn, you'll want to read this.