What images come to mind when someone starts talking about scouting for turkey? Most of us probably imagine long walks through the woods looking for tracks, feathers or signs. This is one of the most popular methods, but it's also one of the most time consuming.
Aerial Photos and Topo Maps
A more productive technique is to scout from the air. Your first reaction to this might be, " I neither like airplanes nor do I have the money to rent a plane to look for turkey." But you can do aerial reconnaissance without ever leaving the ground.
The U.S. Geological Survey has aerial photos of most of the land in every state. If you can describe the region you want to hunt, chances are good that they can provide you with an aerial map of the area. If you're serious about your turkey hunting and don't want to waste time, buy aerial photo maps.
When you first study these maps, look for access points to the property you intend to hunt. If roads or right-of-ways are dimly marked, highlight them with a yellow marker. Use a red highlighter to specify power lines and firebreaks, a blue highlighter to denote trails.
An aerial photo is also important when you locate a turkey. Use different colored pens to mark the areas where you find birds. Then if you strike out on one bird, you can always try another. Besides noting access to the woods, an aerial photo can tell you where the turkey should be. These photos show fields, creek bottoms, pine plantations and clear-cuts.
However, an aerial photo doesn't show you the elevation changes of the area. For this reason, buy a topographic map as well. These are also available from the U.S. Geological Survey. From the information on a topographic map, you'll be able to see the gradients of draws and valleys. In addition to seeing what type of terrain the gobblers will favor, you can also see which swamps or cliffs you should avoid.
Once you've studied maps, divide specific areas where you think the birds should be into two categories, the easy gobblers and the tough toms. The easy gobblers are found close to roads. The tough toms live away from the roads. Your only access to the tough toms may be walking along creek bottoms or firebreaks. Once you've done as much scouting as you can, take to the woods.