It’s almost time to go turkey hunting, but first we have to find where they are and where they go. I am sure you read articles in hunting magazines. You know the ones I mean with the catchy titles like. “6 Easy Ways to get Your Gobbler”, or “5 Surefire Gobbler Tips” and “Top 10 Turkey Tactics of the Pros”. You read this articles and did they help you to kill a big tom? Most likely not. And so you came here to find out my secret to hunting a big ol’ gobbler.
I am going to be honest with you. To tell you the truth, there are no secrets to hunting turkey’s or any other game for that matter. Unfortunately there are also no “6 Easy Ways to get Your Gobbler”, or “5 Surefire Gobbler Tips”. The only way that you can be successful as a turkey hunter is when you scout. “Oh no, here we go again.” Shouted someone from the back row. “Now he is going to tell us to scout.” That’s right! The secret to shooting a big tom is scouting. But it has do been done right. Many hunters confuse scouting with a leisurely walk trough the woods.
Do it right.
Let me tell you how scouting for turkeys is done right. By the way this tactic will also work for other game animals any time and everywhere you hunt.
To begin you have to know as much about turkeys as possible. Learn about them by observing their habits and behaviours. Know this! Animals do nothing because the fancy tickles them or because they feel like it. Turkeys are not like most people who wander aimlessly about the countryside. Whatever it is they do or wherever they go it has a reason and rime to it. Animals use the lay of the land, or structure as I call it, to navigate around. Turkeys travel, like you and me, the easiest route from A to B, for this they don’t mind to make a small detour if this means that it is easier for them.
Turkeys like to roost in trees with big sturdy branches and they always roost in a flock preferably where they have good vision over the landscape. The most likely places to find such roosting trees are stands of oaks, or similar trees, on a ridge, - or hilltop. Okay, now we have a staring point. If you look around in such places you can easily spot a roosting tree by looking for feathers and droppings under the trees.
At daybreak the turkeys fly from the trees and make their way to the feeding grounds, which depending on the location can be several miles away from the roosting tree. Turkeys love agricultural fields where the tom will strut and can be seen by the hens form a long way. Yes, they are real show offs. When turkeys travel they like to stay close to cover, a woodland edge or along a wooded ridge top where they have a good field of view all-round them.
A turkey’s day follows more or less the same pattern every day. They fly down from the roost then off they go to the fields to have some breakfast and where the toms will court the hens. Then before noon they head slowly back to the roosting tree again. When the turkeys head back they take it easy and often meander about stopping here and there to pick some choice food or checking out nesting sites and even have a good dust bath or do a little fighting to establish the pecking order.
Turkeys eat a great variety of foods wich can differ from one area to another. Grass, seeds, berries and flower buds are amongst their favourites in the spring. Go out there and observe turkeys from a distance with your binoculars and cruise the country and farm roads at dawn, noon and dusk to look for the birds. Take careful notes from what you observe. You also should have a topographical map of the area where you can mark down where the turkeys roost, where you see them in the fields and so forth.
The more you observe and learn the better you will know the four “W” of scouting which are “Where”, “When”, “What” and “Why”. Answer all these questions and you are ready to hunt and be successful. In the next article we will discuss where to set up the perfect ambush to shot a big gobbler.
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