No matter where you chase fall turkeys, especially during some of our early hunting seasons, squirrels will likely be nearby. And if just the squirrel season is open, but not the turkey-hunting opportunity, you’ll be able to get out early and scout for flocks. “It’s all good,” as my southern hunting buddies like to say . . .
As a teenager who first hunted my native north-central Pennsylvania, I learned this approach where it was common for Keystone State sportsmen to target both species. Squirrels provided almost constant action on oak ridges, and near hickories and beechnuts. Often enough, turkey scratchings, droppings, and tracks could be found nearby.
As is often the case, fall turkey hunting involves several dimensions: finding the flocks can often prove to be the most difficult part, especially if you hunt hilly and mountainous cover as I did in PA, and often do now around the country.
Once found, it can be a little easier, providing you’re interested in simply filling a tag on a bird-of-the-year. If not, you can choose to hunt only adult gobblers, which might extend your autumn turkey hunts, and that’s not always a bad thing.
One approach I’ve taken in the past is to set up and stand hunt on a ridge where you find evidence of squirrel activity (oak branch cuttings, for instance) and turkey movement (fresh wedge-shaped scratchings).
You can still hunt through the woods slowly as well, setting up on a bushytail that’s treed on your approach. Setting up at the base of a nearby tree is much the same as you would when calling a turkey. Yes, a gunshot may end that successful squirrel hunt, but I’ve found in big country the noise doesn’t hinder your turkey hunting all that much.
Bowhunters can even approach their squirrel/turkey hunts more quietly of course. Are you a head-shot archer for turkeys? A squirrel is roughly the same size.—Steve Hickoff