Fall turkey hunting began early last week in Missouri.
The first of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s two archery seasons began Sept. 15 and will run through Nov. 15. The MDC’s 2013 turkey firearms season is set for the entire month of October, while the second archery season will be from Nov. 27 to Jan. 15, 2014.
MDC experts say that fall turkey seasons (archery and firearms) are very different from the spring hunt. During the fall, there is little or no gobbling activity, and gobblers are in small flocks (three to 10 birds), while hens and young are together in large flocks (10 to 20 birds). It is not unusual to find two to three hens together with all their young.
A good strategy for fall turkey hunting is to find and break up a flock, scattering them in all directions. Then take up a position as near as possible to the spot of the break up and wait 15 minutes.
Gobblers can be called back by using clucks and coarse yelps, and hens and young birds can be called back using hen yelps and/or “kee-kee” run calls. Young birds usually will return within an hour, while an old gobbler may take three to four hours. Hens and their young tend to vocalize a lot as they return. Old gobblers tend to return silently.
ASSURE A SAFE WALKOUT
Fall turkey hunting can be an extremely enjoyable experience. The sounds and sight of 20 or 30 turkeys returning from all directions can be as exciting as calling in a spring gobbler. However, the fall firearms turkey season has the potential to be more dangerous than the spring because either sex may be hunted.
Therefore, hunters take less care with positive identification. Remember to follow the basic rules of safe turkey hunting.
An orange alert band wrapped around the bird to keep its wings from flopping helps make your walk-out safer. If you don’t want to make or purchase an alert band, try using an orange hunting vest. A little precaution may keep your bird from being shot a second time – and you with it.
RESULTS FROM LAST FALL
During the 2012 fall firearms season, 131 turkeys were reported killed in Texas County, while 57 were taken during the pair of archery seasons. Counties reporting the highest harvest totals during firearms season were Webster (225), Laclede (223) and Greene (216), while counties reporting the most archery kills were Jefferson (95), Laclede (79) and Greene (76).
Overall state totals included 8,498 kills during firearms season and 3,217 during the split archery seasons.
CHANGES FOR 2013 FALL SEASONS
The MDC has announced three changes for this year’s fall turkey season (one of which also applies to deer):
––Turkey hunters are no longer required to affix yellow “Be Safe” stickers to their shotguns.
––Hunters now may use atlatls to take turkeys during the fall firearms season.
––Hunters no longer need to attach their voided permit to their harvested deer or turkey as long as they remain with their harvest.
During the fall turkey-hunting season, wild turkeys may be pursued, taken, killed, possessed or transported only as outlined in the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet. The booklet is available in PDF format online at http://mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/regulations/turkey-regulations/fall-turkey-hunting-regulations, and in print form from permit vendors and MDC offices. For more information, call the MDC field office in Houston at 417-967-3385.