Although I enjoy turkey hunting I rarely hunt turkeys during the fall, mostly because I thoroughly enjoy spring turkey season! There is nothing better than getting out among some “hot” birds and calling one in for a clean shot. The best way to put yourself in position to call in a big gobbler is to locate a turkey roost. Not that this is the only way to bag a big tome, but it’s one of the most effective, typically having a high success rate.
This is because turkey will pretty much use the same roost trees over and over again, unless they are repeatedly disturbed. Finding a turkey roost is not difficult, especially if you know where to look and what to search for. The obvious places to look for roost include rivers, creeks, and around lakes and pond. In more arid country or in Rio Grande turkey habitat, make sure that you check out draws as well.
The obvious wild turkey signs include feathers, turkey scat, and scratchings that indicate feeding. If you find these items, the there is a good chance of locating a turkey roost nearby. When you get knee deep in turkey sign, check out the trees above you. If they are big, tall trees with an open limb struture then you are likely standing smack-dab in the middle of an active turkey roost. Try to avoid being too close to this site in the evening, unless you are hunting nearby, because turkey will be heading back for the night.
Another effective way to find a roost includes using locator calls. An owl call or crow call can be used to get a “shock” gobble from a big tom. You can also use a loud sharp cluck about every half minute to get a quite tom to throw out a gobble. I prefer to use a crow call because this is what I’ve had the best luck with. Turkey calls can get birds to holler, but I’ve got burned by this method before more than a few times. This happens when I let out a yelp or series of yelps and then either a silent tom shows up almost immediately, or a tom lets out a gobble and then busts me while moving in, before I even have time to set up!
Because of this, I like to go with the crow call while turkey hunting. If a bird responds then I know where he is at, but he’s not lured towards me. I then can move towards him to close the distance or set up and call him towards me. If the turkey sounds far off, I will move closer before setting up. If the gobbler sounds less than 200 yard away I will set up right where I am at. From experience, I will tell you that turkeys are usually much closer than they sound. And since they have great eye sight, you do not want to try to sneak in on them.
The just-mentioned technique will work best after about 10:00 in the morning up until late afternoon. I’ve called in birds at all times of the day, so don’t think that just the morning is best for turkey hunting. I’ve called gobblers in and then had them leave as it got darker, flying directly to their roost sites. Use the area scouting technique for searching suspected habitat for and locating a turkey roost site. On a final note, a crow call can be used in very late evening, just before dark, to get toms to gobble right from their roost sites. So once you “put those birds to bed” you know right where to find them in the morning.