One of the biggest misconceptions hunters make about turkey hunting is that the birds either there or not and nothing can be done to improve your chances. This leads many more apathetic hunters to show up on opening day with little or no information regarding
bird location. This is a terrible mistake! Scouting is crucial if you want to find the roost and consistently put a bird on the ground.
So how is it done? The most important piece of information you can have before opening day is where are mature toms are roosting. I use a dusk and dawn approach which begins oddly enough in the late afternoon. Here are a few tips.
1.) When do I start?
Don’t be fooled by turkey movements from the fall or winter prior when hardwood food sources are depleted. Turkeys change their daily movements with water and food sources. When the warmer weather approaches turkeys will head to water in the morning
and green fields during the daytime. Don’t scout any earlier than 2 or 3 weeks before opening day and PLEASE don’t over use calls and educate the old wise toms. They will quickly pick up your sound. Over calling could spoil your entire season.
2.) Afternoon to dusk
I spend the late afternoon walking logging roads and field edges trying to prompt a shock gobble by throwing out an occasional crow or goose call. Take your time. You just need to make it to your destination for the last hour of light. Walk slowly and make sure you stop to listen from time to time. Remember, this isn’t a hike you are trying to find turkeys. Work your way to a high point in your hunting property. Pick a spot you know the sounds will travel to without obstructions so you can hear as far as possible. This is your listening spot. Sit. Listen. Feel free to hit a crow call a few times before you go. You should have a good idea where they are roosting after that.
3.) Dawn to mid-morning
Turkeys are most vocal from the roost in the morning so return to your listening spot the next day before light. Feel free to move closer to the birds or where you think the birds are roosting. We don’t recommend getting any closer than 100 yards. Hopefully, you will have a calm quite morning and the turkeys will be talkative. Because turkeys are most vocal while in the roost just before flying down you should be able to sit tight and wait for them to let you know where they are. Sit, listen, watch, and don’t let them see you. You’ll want to come back for the opener.
4.) Analyze what you hear
You want to determine if the gobbles you are hearing are coming from a jake or a mature tom. A gobble from a jake (young bird) will end abruptly or sound awkward and inelegant? If so, it’s probably a jake. Let him live to see another year.
Were the gobbles you heard long thunderous soliloquies? If so, then those are mature birds that you will want to target and set up on for opening day.
5.) Add it all up
Use the information you have gathered from scouting to plan your turkey hunt. Break down every turkey sound you heard and where it came from. Make a mental note of every spot where you heard a mature bird. you’ll need to call upon this intel when the season gets long and the woods go quiet. Your scouting could be the reason you bag a late season bird if you are not successful early on.
As always, if you have any questions email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.