Field and Stream - - THE MIXED-BAG CHEAT SHEET - —T.J.P.

By the time the leaves have mostly fallen, fall turkeys—hens and toms—will be locked into a tight feed­ing pat­tern, and they don’t take kindly to any bird that cuts in line at their cho­sen buf­fet. This will­ing­ness to de­fend their din­ner is a weak­ness all fall turkey hun­ters can ex­ploit. Here’s how:

Ob­serve: Whether you’re sit­ting in a tree­stand sim­ply watch­ing, or need to get in the truck and glass some picked corn­fields, take note of where you see turkey flocks. If a group of birds is scratch­ing their way through a field in search of waste grain to­day, they’ll be there to­mor­row, likely at the same time.

Hide and Deke: For a bowhunt, carry in a hub-style blind and brush it in. If a 12-gauge is your thing, put an over­size oak at your back and make a nat­u­ral blind on the field edge. Re­mem­ber that you’ll have mul­ti­ple sets of eyes to beat, so pay close at­ten­tion to your hide. Ei­ther way, a sin­gle feed­ing-hen de­coy is the ticket. Place it 15 yards out and clearly vis­i­ble to any birds en­ter­ing the field.

Talk Smack: The soft, sub­tle call­ing that many ad­vise for fall doesn’t work here. In­stead, you want to shout at nearby birds and let them know how much you’re en­joy­ing their gro­ceries. Loud, ag­gres­sive yelp­ing and cut­ting with a di­aphragm call or a box call is a good way to get their at­ten­tion. Add in some leaf scratch­ing to fully sell the ruse. When the head hon­cho in a group of toms sees this, he’ll lead the whole flock in. Ditto for the ma­tri­arch of a gang of hens and poults.

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