Iowa’s turkey population likely benefited from an early nesting season and dry spring and summer, which is good news for turkey hunters who should expect to see more birds when fall turkey hunting seasons open next month.
The archery only fall turkey season mirrors the archery deer season: Oct. 1-Nov. 30, then closes for the shotgun deer season and reopens Dec. 17 to Jan. 10, 2013. The gun-bow fall turkey season is Oct. 15-Nov. 30.
The fall turkey seasons are often passed over while hunters pursue deer, ducks and pheasants, but it provides a good opportunity to bring kids into the sport because being noisy is one of the ways to hunt them.
“The most productive way to hunt turkeys in the fall is to find a flock, break them up by either running at them, or sending the dog in or let the kids run at them. The key is to get the birds flying in as many different directions as possible,” said Todd Gosselink, forest wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
“Turkeys are flocking birds so they will want to get back into a flock. Once they are dispersed, get the camo on, sit down, wait a few minutes and then begin to call them back,” he said.
But leave most of the spring calls at home. Calling in the fall is different than in the spring. “It sounds like ‘kee-kee’ and you can mimic the call with a diaphragm mouth call to bring them in. It’s pretty exciting,” he said.
Deer bowhunters and pheasant hunters should consider picking up a tag as well, Gosselink said, not because they plan specifically target turkeys, but more as an opportunistic harvest.
“Hunters who will be around wooded areas and our wooded riparian corridors in Iowa’s more agricultural areas may have the opportunity to shoot a turkey this fall,” he said.
“The fall season is long which allows hunters some flexibility and helps with taking kids because there is time to find flocks and you can go when the weather is nicer when the kids have off from school,” Gosselink said.
With all the activity in the forests and fields, hunters should plan to wear blaze orange when they head to and from the field.
Fall turkey hunting has similar shotgun and bow hunting regulations, with the exception that in the fall, hunters may harvest a bird of either sex. In the spring, it’s bearded bird only. Rifles and muzzleloading rifles are not allowed and shotguns must be between 10-gauge to 20-gauge. Bow hunters are under the same broad-head restrictions for turkey as they are for deer.
Harvest must be reported through the harvest reporting system by midnight of the day the bird is recovered.