With turkey season just over a week away now is the time to get out and find a few flocks to hunt this spring. As morning temperatures increase so will the gobbling activity of the males as they establish territories and begin to seek out hens to mate with this spring. This is also a great time to pattern the flock’s daily routine and find their watering and feeding areas as well as a place to ambush a big tom.
When I scout for turkey, I like to get into the area I want to hunt early and listen for gobblers still on the roost maybe using an owl call to get them fired up while they are still in the trees. I rarely use turkey calls when scouting because I am not trying to bring them in. I just want to find out how many are in the area. Once the birds fly down, I try to find the area where they were roosted and what direction they traveled once they are on the ground.
Since turkeys will normally follow the same routine from day to day, I like to find out their route and try to cut them off along that path once the season opens. You can usually track their progress by following scratching in the leaves or droppings and using crow calls to elicit gobbles to track their route as they go to their strutting areas where they will display for the hens. The toms will spend the next couple of hours displaying and courting the hens and occasionally gobbling while the hens go about their business getting ready to breed. However, once the hens go tend to their nest around 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. the toms will be back in search of hens and will often gobble hoping to attract a lonesome hen still searching for a boyfriend.
Another good place to find turkeys is in secluded fields and meadows where the gobblers will strut to impress the hens and create dominance among the other males in the flock.
Turkeys enter and exit these fields from the same general location each day and knowing when and where they access these openings can pay big dividends once the season starts.
Scouting an area before you hunt will help you familiarize yourself with what food is available, where the birds go for water and where they dust themselves. When gobblers are silent and with their hens knowing several places to set up and intercept them can help you put your tag on a gobbler when other hunters are frustrated by a lack of vocal birds.
Of course, there are other ways to locate turkeys without all the legwork and early morning scouting. Some people use bait to attract turkeys as an easy way to kill a spring gobbler, although illegal and unethical it is almost a sure fire way to harvest a turkey. One brave person has been baiting turkeys at the Camp Bright grazing allotment in the National Forest on the way up to Bickle Knob. This person is ready to go, he or she has a blind set up and corn spread all over and the turkey have got that place torn to pieces. I was walking the dogs up there when I came across the set up, turkey, deer and bear have apparently been eating quite well thanks to some “hunter” who is getting prepared for the upcoming spring hunt. Anyone hunting this area should see plenty of game and the turkey are certainly there, the trick will be avoiding a ticket for hunting turkey over bait, which if I recall, is a fairly stiff penalty.
Personally, I prefer to go out and put my time in to find the birds I want to hunt this spring, it is much more enjoyable and satisfying to call in a gobbler and watch him come in strutting looking for a hen and harvest him legally and feel good about doing so in an ethical manner.