Well guys, the snow is melted here in West Michigan and I don’t know about all of you but I am ready to be out in the woods. What else better is there to do on a spring day than to walk around the woods and scout for turkeys. With Turkey season being less than one month away for most of us I thought this would be a great time to talk about scouting. Scouting is in my opinion eighty percent of turkey hunting and is the best tool we have on our side for an opening day flop fest with a longbeard.
Starting our scouting this early in the spring is a good idea but keep in mind that in many areas the birds will not be in their spring patterns yet so it is very important to keep on watching the birds right up until turkey season. What we can gather from scouting early is a ton of information on particular toms, how many jakes are around, and we can also get an incredible lesson on hen talk since the hens are so vocal right now. There is no better time to be in the woods if you would like to learn how to sound just like a horny hen.
There are many different ways to scout. One way to scout is to just go to a spot and listen. I do this right at my house on Sunday mornings. There are a few properties I have permission to hunt that are within ear shot of my house so I just go to the end of the driveway and listen to hear were the birds are roosted, gobbles are a wonderful Thing. Bully’s Pro Staffer John Miller stops at different locations on his way to work in the morning so that he can locate general areas to hunt on the weekends. Finding a good listening spot, preferably a high spot were you can hear well, is a great way to get a quick idea on were to start on opening day.
Scouting can also be very detailed if you have the time to spend out in the woods. I have scouted areas with such detail in the past that I have even raked a path to my opening morning spot so I could get in quiet in the morning. This may seem a little bit obsessive to some but I had a longbeard on the ground at 7:15 that morning, that is a good way to start off any season. If you want to add some detail to your try getting in the woods an hour before light and make sure you stay put until all the turkeys are gone from the area. Intense scouting takes a big time committment but it also yeilds big results. Detailed scouting requires close contact with the birds so if you are going to get close you must be willing sit for long periods of time.
There are so many things to look for when you are scouting for turkeys that I don’t think I could include or remember them all in one letter but listed below are a few things that may help.
1. gobbler tracks measure about 5-6 inches in length and are much wider than a hen track. Hen tracks measure about 3-4 inches.
2. gobbler droppings are about 1 1/2 inches long and are “J” shaped. Hen droppings are round and about the size of a piece of popcorn.
3. Strut zones can be located by the lines in the dirt that are outside of the gobblers tracks. Many times there will be circles of tracks were the gobbler has turned in circles while strutting his stuff for the ladies.
4. Roost areas are often located near water so if you want to find roost trees look for horizontal limbs on trees located by streams or rivers. Turkeys feel safe roosting over water.
5. When you find your opening morning set up spot try to find the exact place that you will be sitting. Make sure you have clean shooting lanes and that the gobblers have a clear travel path to were you are sitting.
Start your scouting early and scout often for better success when your season starts. Scouting is a great tool and it is also alot of fun. Break the your cabin fever and get out there and watch some birds. I hope you all have time to check out your hunting areas so that the victories of the hunt section of the website is overloaded with longbeards.
Seth “Bully” McCullough