Are_turkey_dogs_hickoff_photo Using turkey dogs in states where it’s legal offers plenty. Mostly it allows you to find and flush autumn flocks more effectively. But then you have another challenge: How do you hide that canine hunting partner in the blind so that you can call scattered turkeys back? Training at an early age helps. Still, that dog—eager to get close to those turkeys again—might have a hard time staying still; a necessity.

In truth, dogs are like hunters. Some are good, and some are a work-in-progress. The ability to use turkey dogs effectively is usually done best by a serious fall turkey hunter. Work on the latter aspect first. If I could count how many turkey flocks my dogs have busted, which I couldn’t, then compared it to the birds in those groups I’ve tagged, you’d ask me why I don’t hunt deer more enthusiastically than autumn gobblers and hens. Again, having a canine along for companionship, and then seeing that dog find and flush turkeys, is my first measure of success. Period. Yes, sealing the deal, calling and killing a legal fall bird is what it’s all about. But it’s not everything, and it’s not always easy. Dogs are as fair as any other tool we use. Any thoughts, Strut Zoners?—Steve Hickoff