As you find yourself at the end of spring turkey season having exhausted all your turkey tactics to silent, hidden and uncooperative birds, don’t give up until you try the proven fall technique of busting up the flock.
If you are not familiar with the practice of fall turkey hunting, one of the best methods is to startle the flock while they are in their roost and scatter them in every direction. What this accomplishes is that you scatter a group of birds, who rely on safety-in-numbers during the fall and winter months, and it really upsets them and they quickly try to re-assemble by following the putts and clucks of unseen birds. This is a good time to trick them into thinking you are one of their lost flock mates by softly calling and clucking while trying to lure in lost birds.
In the fall and winter months, turkeys feel the need to gather together for their own protection as natural predators are forced to take advantage of all available food sources. It makes sense wanting many pairs of eyes watching for danger than going it alone in small groups. It is a natural survival tool used by other animals such as Whitetail deer. They also gather in large groups in the winter and this phenomenon is called ‘yarding.’ Although birds are not gathered up in the spring, they still belong to groups, albeit smaller ones, but they are still susceptible to the scatter plan.
I find it easier to bust the flock up during the early morning hours of first light. It is just light enough to see your way around, but not quite light enough for the birds to clearly see you maneuvering around in the woods. You don’t need to scream or put on a major production to get them to startle and fly off in every direction either. Just get under them if you can and kick the ground and scrape the roosting tree with sticks or branches. This will be enough to make them freak out and take off in panic.
After the scattering, you will want to get set up quickly as the birds will immediately start making their way towards the roosting area to link up with other birds. You only need to master a ‘cluck’ call or a subtle ‘putt.’
The birds will undoubtedly come, but you may only get once chance with a particular group of birds as they wise up very fast. If you are limited to having only one group of turkeys to hunt, you may want to hunt with another person. This will allow one of you to rush the flock on foot later while they are on the ground, while the other person is set up out of sight at some distance away. This may give you another opportunity to bag a bird even though they know it is humans that are after them.
Busting birds is a last-resort tactic for spring turkey hunting. Once you utilize this method, you can forget returning to normal spring turkey hunting methods on the same birds. However, when the chips are down and this move is all you have, find your groove and bust a move.