WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Brand new season, brand new ball game

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Brand new season, brand new ball game


Let’s see, we now have hunting in September for squirrels and nuisance Canada geese, along with archery hunting for whitetailed deer and turkey. So what’s next?

How about hunting turkey with a shotgun?

Starting Oct. 2 right up until Oct. 30, wild turkey in Connecticut may be hunted with a firearm on both private land and state lands.

Fall hunting for turkey comes with a three-turkey bag limit, either sex, that may be filled while hunting either private or state land, or a combination of the two. Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Hunters must have a valid firearms license as well as a Connecticut Resident Game Bird Conservation Stamp.

To find a spot to hunt on state land ,you can use the tables on pages 40-43 in your 2021 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide.

You may be amazed at the number of state lands that offer various types of hunting, including wild turkey with firearms.

If you hunt private land, you MUST have written permission from the landowner to do so. Decoys may be used, but the use of live decoys is prohibited. The signed permission slip must be current and be carried while hunting.

Fall turkey hunting is a whole new ball game. In the spring of the year, wild turkeys are in a breeding mode and the male turkey, a.k.a. Tom or Gobbler, is the one you are after. All hens are protected in the spring hunt.

This all changed in the fall hunt. The hens are fair game, but be prepared for a different hunting scenario. The woods will not be filled with the gobbling of male turkeys looking for a hen. They are now on the quiet side and it is not unusual to find a small group of male turkeys hanging out together.

As for the hens, many of them are still with the young of the year, although they have now increased in size and there may even be some Jakes (young males) in their flocks.

In my years of hunting I have seen both small groups of males as well as mixed groups of mostly hens and young males.

As for finding a spot to sit and simply call them in like you might do in the spring of the year, forgettaboutit! Like I said earlier, fall hunting for turkey is a whole different ball game.

I do have to admit that during the archery season I have had turkeys come in close to my treestand. In fact, many years ago, when fall turkey hunting with bow and arrow was in its infancy, I was one of only a couple of archers who took a fall turkey with a bow and arrow.

I was on a piece of farmland in Colchester hunting deer when a small flock of turkeys came walking right into my treestand. I tagged my very first Connecticut wild turkey using a bow while on a deer hunt.

And, yes, I had a turkey archery permit and, yes again, I was very proud of my accomplishment. That would not be my last fall turkey, but the others were all taken with a shotgun.

It is possible to take a fall turkey while on a stand if you know where they are feeding, such as a cut-over corn field or a spot in the woods. Believe me when I tell you they can really tear up some leaves when they are feeding and this is very noticeable when you are in the woods.

I have to admit that a couple of times when hunting in the woods in the fall, I have sat down and simply listened to the sounds of nature all around me and have had turkey come into range, but that does not happen too often.

My favorite way to hunt fall turkey was to scatter the flock when I first saw them and then to use a soft call to lure one into range.

This works well with the hens and the males seem to be less in need of companionship. It is a soft call, and once a flock is scattered it does not take much to get one into the soft call, but don’t expect a huge male to come to your call with its tail all fanned out.

It has been my experience that when they are quiet, they can be as silent as a deer when they are moving in the woods — unless they are scratching the leaves looking for some chow.

As for scattering a small flock of turkeys, you may wonder: Why not shoot them when they takeoff? For one thing, this is not ethical and can result in a wounded turkey being left to die in the woods. The best way to put a tag on a wild turkey is to aim for the head when they are on the ground.

If you have not tried hunting turkey yet, you are missing out on a sport that can really get you hooked. And as for quality eating, it has been my experience that wild turkey, while not as meaty as a domestic one, are far tastier as table fare.

While many hunters simply take the breast and legs of a harvested wild turkey, I have always plucked my birds and have found the added effort was worth the work.

So why not add wild turkey to your hunting list? It will get you into the woods and give you a chance to try some excellent wild game.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.

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