Steve Beckwith - Maine Hunter

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

To Hunt Fall Hens and Poults Or Not Is A Hunters Choice.

Let me start off this blog post with a favorite quote of mine that I live by:
Definition of a Maine Hunter:
Any person that fully enjoys the pursuit of his or her intended species with the end results being an accomplished and happy hunter regardless of sex, weights, bag limits or protruding extremities! 
Steve Beckwith - Maine Hunter

I had a client earlier last week and this client would only shoot a Tom, or the Boss Gobbler as he called it,  the client was 74 years old, with a bad leg and was limited on the type of terrain I could take him over, as well as being completely deaf and I had to communicate with him using texting sitting next to him. I enjoyed the gentleman immensely and he was an excellent sportsman, but it was a very trying experience for me as a Maine Guide. He only hunted with me for two days, sunup to sundown and each day the morning set ups were in a field/meadow that was picturesque and we even had a gobble on the roost the first morning, but both days the birds would not fly down into the wet grass of the field and they landed in the woods on dry ground. The land owner gave me permission to hunt only until 8 AM each day due to they had a horse riding stable that catered to disabilities and therapy riding lessons and started at 9 AM, so we could not stay or return when the birds hit the field in that area. We traveled for many hours and located many birds, most were hen flocks with poults and these birds were nothing this gentleman was interested in pursuing. We found several Toms but always on land we couldn't access or under someone's bird feeders. We sat fields in the evening hours for the roost, but of course they either didn't roost or were at the other end of the field from our blind. My client went home empty handed simply because he was not willing to harvest a hen in the fall, a choice he made and had to live with after paying my guide fees of two days. 


I haven't had much chance to get out and hunt this fall for myself, but between setting stands and scouting for clients, today Oct 10th, I got a morning to myself  and harvested two hen turkeys with one shot.  (In Maine you can shoot two birds in the fall of either sex.) It was an awesome adventure that after it was all over I thought, it sure would have been nice to have had a buddy along to see it all come together as I out smarted an entire flock of birds. My clients who wouldn't shoot a hen missed out on the excitement of the birds coming to the call, to each their own, but I love calling in any wild animal, male or female and outsmarting it, that is the challenge to me and always will be.
Many people ask me how I hunt in the fall. It's been many years of trial an error, but I have finally become quite good at succeeding on a flock of hens and poults in the fall.  First I locate a flock of birds by traveling the known areas birds live, travel and frequent, once I spot them I get ahead of them without being seen, usually I use the woods to get into what I call "The Zone" (Close enough to not be seen by the birds but not so far they can't hear my fall calling yelps and putts.) I set up quick and call like the audio file below. I will pause my calling 3-5 minutes between calling and don't call when I can see a bird, I let them hunt me down, with gun up and ready because there's too many eyes coming in quietly to move once you see them. I sit against a tree and if I can sit behind evergreens it helps to give me better cover.  Watch without moving a muscle and be ready, if I get busted and the birds alarm or run off, I will get up and try to move at them to bust them up, then sit back down for a few minutes and start to call again from a slightly different location, usually they will come back in to re-group with the flock and you may get your chance then. 

I have also shot many Toms in the past in the fall using a single Jake decoy in a field, (If I can get it set up ahead of a group of males without getting seen, I usually use the hills in the field to place the decoy when I can.) when they do see the decoy they will come running in at it so be ready if you try this set up! I know there are a lot of other methods for fall turkey hunting but this is just what works for me and I hope it helps someone else who is struggling with fall turkey hunting, I know I did for many years! 

(The audio is how I call fall birds in using my own vocal chords, no man made call used. It's rough calling but many birds have fallen for my "fall calling", some in the spring too!)

Good luck and Happy Fall Turkey Hunting!

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