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Spring Vs Fall Turkey Hunting

Spring Vs Fall Turkey Hunting

The comparison of spring versus fall turkey hunting seasons often becomes a focal point of discussions for enthusiastic turkey hunters. Some hunters may be hesitant to participate in the fall season due to concerns about the population, hence, it's recommended that you thoroughly research the hunting conditions in your chosen area. This can help you decide if you are on board with fall turkey hunting or want to stick with springtime.

But before we dive into spring vs fall turkey hunting, we feel it's important to give some general turkey knowledge that is valuable no matter what season you are hunting.

Escape Turkey Vision With Superior Concealment 

SKRE Gear® has field tested our turkey hunting camo to ensure superior concealment to help you have a successful turkey hunt. 

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Where to Hunt Turkey

Turkey hunting is an activity available in 49 of the 50 U.S. states. Occasionally, turkey hunting opportunities are determined by a lottery system, but often, tags can be easily obtained over the counter or are included when you purchase an upland game license. The options are broad-ranging, with distinct spring and fall seasons provided. The spring turkey hunt is generally restricted to male turkeys, whereas the fall allows for both male and female turkeys to be harvested.

Turkey Species

If you're a veteran turkey hunter, you're likely familiar with the "Turkey Grand Slam". However, if you're new to the world of turkey hunting, the Grand Slam refers to successfully hunting and tagging each distinct breed of wild turkey. The Grand Slam turkey species include:

Hunter posing with his turkey
  • Eastern Turkey: Predominantly seen in the eastern portion of the United States, these turkeys prefer heavily forested areas and vast grasslands.
  • Osceola Turkey: Primarily found in central and southern parts of Florida, these turkeys are named after a Seminole chief. They're among the most elusive turkeys as their habitat is restricted to a single state.
  • Merriam's Turkey: Typically seen in the mountainous regions of the western United States. Their features bear a striking resemblance to the Rio Grande Turkey, and they often share territories, so it's crucial to confirm that it's not a hybrid if you're working towards your Grand Slam. These turkeys are characterized by an increased amount of white in their tail fan.
  • Rio Grande Turkey: Predominantly found in the south-central plains of the United States, Northeast Mexico, and notably in Texas. Their distinct gobble is unique and not easily mistaken for others.
  • Gould’s Turkey: These turkeys are found in selected regions of Southern Arizona and New Mexico.
  • Ocellated Turkey: Primarily spotted in Mexico, these turkeys stand out due to their vibrant colors. Their appearance, which resembles the colors of a peacock, is what makes them unique. The term "ocellated" refers to the eye-like markings they exhibit.

What Do Wild Turkeys Eat?

Wild turkeys typically maintain an omnivorous diet. Their food intake often includes a variety of mixed nuts, seeds, berries, small reptiles, succulent plants, foliage, and insects. However, the preferred diet can vary slightly depending on the breed of the turkey.

  • Eastern Turkeys enjoy consuming beetles, grasshoppers, various insects, tree nuts, and even acorns.
  • Osceola Turkeys primarily feed on lizards, blackberries, and acorns.
  • Rio Grande Turkeys and Merriam's Turkeys share the same diet as the Eastern Turkey.
  • Gould’s Turkeys mostly eat grasses, seeds, material from trees and brushes, oak acorns, and occasionally, fruits.
  • Ocellated Turkeys typically consume seeds, berries, insects, and leaves.

Interestingly, one can determine the gender of a turkey by examining their droppings. As per the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the droppings of male turkeys are "J-shaped", whereas female turkeys produce droppings that are more "spiral or curlycue" in shape.

This intriguing bit of information could come in handy when you're out scouting during your hunt.

Turkey Senses

Known for their exceptional vision (aka turkey vision) and hearing, turkeys pose a considerable challenge for hunters.

Wild turkeys possess flattened corneas that allow them to perceive colors to a certain extent. Their eyes, located on the sides of their heads, offer monocular, periscopic vision. This kind of eye sight is advantageous in identifying food sources and potential dangers, as well as in quickly detecting motion and discerning details.

This is why it's crucial for hunters to remain still and ensure effective concealment while hunting. It's also one of the main reasons turkey hunters often favor the use of ground blinds. These structures can be assembled in a matter of minutes and offer full coverage, reducing the chances of being detected by these alert birds.

How to Turkey Hunt

Strategy is key when you're hunting turkeys. Here are some vital tools and tips you need for a successful turkey hunt no matter the season.

1- Learn Their Habitat

While we've discussed the general regions where to hunt turkey, understanding their habitat extends beyond the mere state in which they are hunted. Similar to all wildlife, turkeys have fundamental survival needs that their environment must meet. These include food and water sources, trees for roosting, open fields, and abundant cover. This is the reason why food plots are often frequented by turkeys, along with whitetail deer.

Clover and winter wheat plots are known to attract a high number of insects, which are essential for hens to produce eggs. Thus, if your goal is to specifically draw in turkeys, planting these crops could be a smart strategy.

2- Learn Their Patterns

Successful turkey hunting often hinges on effective scouting strategies. To maximize your hunting time, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the birds' patterns by listening in the early morning and observing from a distance. Turkeys generally stick to their routines, frequenting certain areas, fields, and clearings in the woods for feeding and displaying to the hens.

Turkeys are typically most visible at dawn, midmorning, and evening, making it easier to spot strutting toms and count the number of hens accompanying him. The fewer the hens, the simpler it will be to coax him away.

3- Find Where They Roost

As sunset approaches and you spot turkeys in the field, it's safe to assume that their priority shifts towards securing a safe resting place for the night, rather than engaging in displays. Observing their roosting spot provides you with a reliable clue for setting up your hunting position nearby the next morning.

If you're unable to precisely spot their roosting location, pay attention to sounds such as breaking branches and the fluttering of wings, which can guide you towards their roost.

Hunter using a turkey pot call

4- Calling Turkeys In

The effectiveness of your turkey calling strategy may depend on the season and the sex of the turkey you're hunting. Nevertheless, the success of your hunt can significantly hinge on having a diverse array of turkey calls at your disposal and mastering their use.

For beginners, a box call is a good place to start when it comes to call, because it is easy to use and is pretty consistent with the sound that it can produce.

Other options include a slate call, mouth call, or a locator call such as a crow call, all of which can be used to elicit a shock gobble from a turkey. The aim is to mimic a hen as convincingly as possible or incite a gobble that could help lure in the turkey.

Basic calls that you might want to learn include the cluck, purr, putt, and yelp.

A commonly asked question is “how often should you call when turkey hunting?”. As a general guideline, you should be calling every 5-10 minutes.

5- Pay Attention to the Weather

The success of your turkey hunt can be significantly influenced by temperature and weather conditions. Cold temperatures can cause turkeys to slow down, and windy conditions can reduce their vocalizations as they may struggle to hear you or your calls.

Unfavorable weather can indeed hamper the outcome of your turkey hunting. To make the most of your hunting experience, consider following these turkey hunting tips.

6 - Purchase Quality Turkey Hunting Gear

Having the right turkey hunting gear can make or break the experience. Nothing is worse than getting out in the field and realizing you forgot your call or being short ammo. Check out our turkey hunting gear list for our suggestions on what you should make sure you have in the field.

Turkey Hunting Clothes

The key to success with your turkey hunting clothes is to make sure you are totally concealed. Choosing the proper camo pattern can really help you blend into your environment or could make you stick out like a sore thumb.

Merino Wool Base Layer

It doesn't matter if you are hunting in the spring or fall, a high quality merino wool base layer is a must for any hunter. The merino wool fabric is a power-house when it comes to maintaining core temperature - whether you are needing to stay cool or keep warm.

Turkey Hunting Pants

When looking for high quality turkey hunting pants, you need to make sure that they don’t inhibit your range of motion. The last thing that you want is to make your trekk in or out of the woods any harder than necessary or worse, fighting the urge to fidget from uncomfortable pants while you are sitting waiting for the turkey to move in closer.

Look for hunting pants that are durable, yet quiet as well. And having good pockets is always a nice benefit as well.

Turkey hunter in full camo holding a shotgun

Turkey Hunting Vest

A hunting vest is a great piece of turkey hunting clothing, because it can provide additional heat retention at your core, without hindering the movement of your arms. Some turkey hunting vests even have a seat attached to the bottom for those longer sits out in the woods.

Turkey Hunting Face Mask

The type of head covering you choose is totally based on preference, but when you are hunting an animal that has as good of eye-sight as turkey's do, you want to make sure that you are covered head to toe. We recommend you pair a camo hunting hat with a neck gaiter AT MINIMUM, but even better would be to find something that covers more of your face, such as a mesh mask or balaclava.

These will help with concealment, but also can help keep pesky bugs off of you as well.

Merino Wool Socks

Don't forget about your feet! Merino wool socks are amazing at helping regulate your foot temperature by wicking way moisture as well as preventing blisters.

Escape Turkey Vision With Superior Concealment 

SKRE Gear® has field tested our turkey hunting camo to ensure superior concealment to help you have a successful turkey hunt. 

Shop Turkey Hunting Clothing

Turkey Hunting Decoys

Though often beneficial, decoys are not always essential. This is where your hunting experience can make a difference in knowing when the best time to utilize this tool would be.

The aim is to lure the turkey within 30-40 yards of your position. If you're hunting in low-visibility woodland, you might not need a decoy. The male turkey will be searching for the hen hidden among the trees, so keep up your calls until you get a clear shot.

If you're hunting along an open field edge with clear visibility, consider using a hen or Jake decoy. The turkey's instinct to mate or spar will be stimulated. As hens are usually what male turkeys seek, they often make the best decoys.

An alternative approach is to use a combination of a hen and Jake decoy. This set-up can challenge most male turkeys, especially two-year-olds who can be aggressive and somewhat rash.

The use of a strutter decoy is relatively uncommon. This type of decoy could intimidate most turkeys, but in a restricted area with a dominant bird, it might be a worthwhile strategy.

Turkey Hunting Weapon

Turkey hunter holding a shotgun

The shotgun is the most frequently used weapon in turkey hunting, but they come in a variety of sizes. Shotgun gauges include 10, 12, 16, and 20 with 12 and 20 gauges being the most popular for turkey hunting.

Many hunters wonder what choke for turkey hunting, when they opt for a shotgun. A full choke is generally the preferred choice as it provides a tighter pattern and a lethal shot at a range of 30-40 yards.

In terms of turkey load, 4-6 shot is a popular choice, as heavier pellets offer a stronger downrange impact.

Alternatively, some turkey hunters may be looking for more of a challenge. If so, bow hunting turkey is something to try. If you decide to pursue this, standard broadheads are suitable for body shots, but for headshots, you may want to consider a guillotine-style broadhead. Many who try turkey hunting with a bow prefer the guillotine-style broadhead as it helps preserve the meat.

Turkey Hunting Season

We briefly mentioned before that the population of turkeys can differ based on the region, but they are generally considered to be prevalent. This has enabled wildlife agencies to establish distinct spring and fall hunting seasons, as they see fit for specific areas. For specific dates for spring or fall turkey hunts, you’ll need to check with the state that you plan on hunting.

How to Hunt Turkeys

In the Spring, the exhilaration tied to spring turkey hunting is an association that's hard to resist. Most states hold their prime turkey hunting seasons from April to May, with some like Florida starting as early as March. Be sure to check your local laws and regulations for specific dates for turkey hunting in your area. Strategizing is often more crucial during the spring turkey season than in fall. In spring, turkeys tend to be dispersed, not grouped in flocks, providing a beneficial angle for hunters. This dispersion can make it simpler to attract male turkeys or Toms. The common goal is to lure the turkey towards you, usually accomplished through the use of decoys and calls.

While there are multiple ways to hunt gobblers, including ambushing them along travel routes or feeding zones, hunters desiring consistent success should learn to scout locations, call, and decoy the birds within range.

Spring coincides with the turkey's peak mating season. The Toms are on the

Man turkey hunting

lookout for a hen to mate with, making them extremely receptive to hunters' calls.

The unique thrill of spring turkey hunting lies in being able to interact with a Tom and hear him coming closer and closer. This experience is like none-other and creates a unique experience with nature that sets turkey hunting apart from other types of hunting. While calling deer with grunt tubes and eliciting reactions from bugling elk with cow calls are other hunting experiences, the conversational exchange with turkeys is truly unparalleled.

Fall Turkey Hunting

Fall turkey season usually kicks off in mid-October in most regions and can extend until the end of December in some areas. While it's not the favored time for turkey hunting, it can be advantageous to have a tag at the ready during the concurrent whitetail season in case a turkey happens to wander by.

Throughout the fall turkey season, hunters can aim for either males or females, depending on the local regulations. As stated earlier, there are certain areas where fall turkey hunting is prohibited due to worries about turkey population sustainability. It's always advisable to familiarize oneself with local hunting rules to ensure no laws are breached.

Provided that fall hunting is allowed in a given area, turkeys tend to gather in larger groups, making them harder to lure or spot. Unlike spring turkeys, which generally roost within a confined area, fall turkeys have a much wider range, sometimes covering over 400 acres. Consequently, ambush hunting becomes an effective method during the fall turkey hunting season.

In-depth preseason scouting is a vital element of successful fall turkey hunting. This process involves locating a primary feeding area. Harvested grain fields or green food plots, which provide bugs and other insects for turkeys to feed on, are ideal for scouting.

When scouting fall turkeys, essential signs to look for include turkey feathers scattered around food plots, along grassy logging routes, or in harvested bean fields. Scratches made by turkeys also serve as significant indicators. Characteristically, these are V-shaped markings with apparent claw impressions, revealing bare ground surrounded by leaves or other debris. Such scratches can measure between 10 to 12 inches, though the size may vary based on the turkey's age or whether the scratch was made by a hen or a tom.

Locating a scratch that seems to have been made by several turkeys often signals a prospective hunting area.

How to Cook Wild Turkey

If you manage to secure a successful hunt during either the spring or fall turkey season, remember that the adventure is only beginning...

Skinning knife near a wild turkey

Once you tag out, it's important to properly prepare and cook your wild turkey. Opting to pluck the turkey provides the ideal preparation for roasting, smoking, or even deep-frying. By plucking the feathers, you can keep the skin intact, which helps in retaining more moisture during cooking.

If you find plucking too laborious, skinning the bird serves as an excellent alternative. This method is particularly beneficial if you're considering frying or grilling the turkey meat. You can start by working along the breastbone to detach the breasts, and then proceed downwards and around each leg.

No matter how you choose to process your bird, you are going to want to make sure to maximize the amount of meat that you can use. There are TONS of recipes online to help you maximize the use of all parts of your bird.


So spring vs fall turkey hunting: which is superior? Each comes with their unique advantages, presenting distinct challenges that make the hunt all the more gratifying when you eventually claim your prized turkey.

No matter the season, it's crucial to approach it with a prepared strategy. "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." With a well-devised plan in hand, the likelihood of encountering an opportunity with a bird increases significantly.

And if you are in need of new turkey hunting gear, check out all of our turkey hunting clothing bundles to make sure that you have all the gear that you need for a successful turkey hunt!

Turkey Hunting Gear List

  • Weapon and Ammo
    • Bow/Arrow/Broadhead/Guillotine OR Shotgun/Shells
  • Calls
    • Wings, Box Call, Pot Call, Diaphragm Mouth Call, etc.
  • Turkey Hunting Clothes
    • Merino Wool Base Layer
    • Turkey Hunting Vest
    • Turkey Hunting Pants
    • Face Mask, Balaclava, OR Neck gaiter and Hat
    • Binoculars
    • Knife
    • Hunting Tag
    • Food
    • Water
    • Bug Spray
    • Backpack for gear
    • Decoys
      • Jake, Hen, Strutting Tom
    • Ground Blind

Escape Turkey Vision With Superior Concealment 

SKRE Gear® has field tested our turkey hunting camo to ensure superior concealment to help you have a successful turkey hunt. 

Shop Turkey Hunting Clothing
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