To be honest, I was on my way to a deer stand when I rounded a corner and realized there were about 14 hens and poults loafing in the alfalfa near me. My deer hunt instantly turned into a turkey hunt as I rushed into the flock, keeping an eye on which way they scattered.
As is almost always the case, it took them longer to fly than I expected, and when they finally took flight, it seemed like almost an even break, which isn’t great. With half the flock on one side of the valley, and half on the other, I scratched out a spot beneath a maple and nocked an arrow.
I knew that it wasn’t ideal because the best busted flocks either scatter in multiple directions, or have one or two that go in the opposite direction of the majority. In this case, I had good-sized mini-flocks that would likely take their time rendezvousing again, and I figured they’d probably get back together in the middle of the cut cornfield in front of me.
Within a few minutes of busting them up, I heard the first helps and kee-kees. I tried to get them fired up with calling of my own, but I could tell it wasn’t meant to be. Even though it was exciting, the birds weren’t calling much, and they were taking their time. Eventually they did meet up, well out of bow range, and I hoofed it down to my stand to restart my original plan.
Busting flocks is like that, but even when it doesn’t produce, it’s still fun. And when it does go well, it’s almost unreal how much action you can have. This is something that just hasn’t caught on much in the Midwest, but I’d be hard-pressed to name a better midday hunt.
The key is to get eyes on a flock and then get close before running in as fast as possible. If you’re gun hunting, do this with your shotgun unloaded because you’ll probably fall down if you’re anything like me. If the birds regroup outside of range, you’ll probably hear them get together and can bust them again, or move on.
When you do bust them, pay attention to where the birds go and set up for the loner or the smaller group and understand that those birds might be back in your lap within a couple of minutes of you rushing through them. And call, call a lot. I use a mouth call in this situation and always try to make it sound like I’m the dominant hen desperate to rally the troops after such a rude interruption.
It’s hard to get folks to ditch other October pastimes to try this technique, but one busted flock done right is all it takes to understand the fun of fall turkey hunting.
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