Spring Turkey Scouting Tips
Spring Turkey Hunting
To be a successful hunter year after year you must properly scout your quarry and spring turkey hunting is no different. Hunters who scout prior to season opening drastically increase their odds of harvesting a spring gobbler or two. Here are some key tips for scouting turkeys that will give you the advantage this spring turkey season.
When To Start Scouting
While seeing fall and winter turkey can be a great sign, the birds will change their feeding patterns as turkey season draws near and the warming weather brings different food sources. By spring, the acorns and pecans are gone and the birds will focus more on greening fields and water areas, such as along creeks or swamp edges. To find the spring turkey scouting should begin two to three weeks before opening day. Birds will still typically be flocked up, but their location will remain fairly constant.
Use Trail Cameras
A technique often over looked by hunters is the use of trail cameras to pinpoint where the spring turkey are hanging out. Set your cameras up on food plots and fields and along logging trails and open hardwood ridges to figure out where flocks lounge and feed during the day. Using cameras can provide vital information on when turkeys arrive at a field, where they enter it, and how long they hang out there.
Observe The Turkey
Just checking your camera won’t replace actual time spent observing turkeys. Grab your binoculars, be sure to camo up so you can blend into the scenery, and put on a comfortable pair of boots for walking. Get out there early and utilize the first half of the day looking and listening. Do not start calling with clucks or yelps before season starts as this will only educate the birds, instead use a locator call to find the birds. In the days leading up to the opener, finding where they roost is the most critical information you can obtain.
Finding where the turkey roost is vital to turkey hunting success. Avoid walking through your hunting area at first light, sit down quietly and watch and listen to where the birds start sounding off and fly down from. Once you have a good idea where the roost is you can check it out further midday when turkey are out and about feeding. You will know when you found roosting areas by signs of feathers, dropping, scratches and other turkey activity.
Locate Food Sources
Now that you know where the turkey are roosting, it is time to find out where they are feeding. Check your cameras you put out on food sources and observe quietly from a distance. Once you have located their food source, they will usually return day after day so long as there is food they are coming for.
Set Up Your Hunting Location
Now that you know where the turkey are roosting and feeding it is time to identify a place to hunt. Set up far enough off the roosting area but close to the feeding zone for best results. A large tree, brush pile or a pop up blind are excellent choices, because they will help keep your silhouette hidden from the turkeys. You also want a location that will give you a clear shot at the turkeys.
Listening To The Birds
When your scouting and listening to the turkey sounds, try to determine every turkey sound you hear. Was that a hen, a young jake or mature gobbler sound that you heard. Using an aerial image of the property, mark every spot where you hear a bird and note whether it sounds mature or not. Refer to that map often, particularly when the woods grow quiet and you need to force the action with some running and gunning.
The morning scouting should give you all the intel you need to be successful by just sitting still watching and listening to the birds. As the sun climbs, inside the tree line of fields, stopping to look and listen periodically. Walk logging trails and throw out the occasional crow call to see if you can entice a shock gobble.
Use these scouting tips right before spring turkey season to significantly improve your chances for success in your pursuit of your next big tom. Remember that turkeys will generally follow identical routines day after day, so scouting gives you vital information that will help you analyze their movements and put you in the best position to tag a long beard bird. Remember to be safe this season and good luck to all my fellow turkey hunters hitting the woods in the coming weeks.
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