John's Journal...

Scouting for Turkeys

Click to enlargeScouting the Early Morning and Hunting Strut Zones

Editor’s Note: For the most success this upcoming turkey season, which starts mid-March in many southern states, you need to scout for turkeys now.

The best time to determine where the gobblers are roosting is the early morning. To bag a bird, you’ll need to get close to the roost before daylight. Then you can call him and take him when he flies down from the roost. To find a gobbler’s roost tree, however, you’ll need to go into the woods before daylight. Once you’re in the woods, listen for the tom to gobble. As soon as you hear it, take a compass reading on the bird. Click to enlarge

You’ve already studied the maps and walked in the woods enough to know the gobbler’s location. Record where, when and in what direction the turkey has gobbled. At least 2 weeks before the season, find as many gobbling birds as you can and pinpoint them on your aerial photo. Then, one week before the season opens, learn more about each bird. First move close to each bird while he’s still on the roost. Wait for him to fly down. Listen to see which way he goes. Once you’re convinced that the bird is out of sight, walk to the roost. Check for any creeks, ditches, thick places, terrain breaks or fences that may prohibit the tom from coming to a possible blind. By knowing which way the bird flies off the roost, you can pick your blind site. Once you’ve compiled this information, you’re ready for opening morning.

Hunting Giveaway Gobblers:Click to enlarge

Giveaway gobblers are those birds that every turkey hunter can hear by standing on the road next to his car. These toms roost within 200 yards of the road. And, come opening morning, you can bet that there will be more than just one hunter going after each giveaway gobbler. That can be frustrating and dangerous. Don’t bother with giveaway gobblers. Take to the woods, and get into some country that few people take the time to enjoy.

Hunting Strut Zones:Click to enlarge

It’s not uncommon for gobblers to have specific places where they like to strut and meet hens. Each gobbler may have two or three different strut zones, and he’ll show up at these places at the same time every day. If you can locate one of these zones, chances are you’ll have a good shot at bagging a bird. Once you find a strut zone, add that information to your aerial photo, and also mark it as a waypoint on your GPS.  For instance, one of my maps has this information: Bent Road Gobbler struts in the sage field at 9:45 am and along Cross Creek Road at 2:17 pm Broken Bridge Tom struts at 8:15 am close to the broken bridge; at 1:30 pm he struts in the pea patch behind the tenant farmer’s house. Then set up a full day of appointments with gobblers. This technique requires some intensive scouting. But scouting can be, and should be, as enjoyable and rewarding as the hunt itself.

Tomorrow: Pre-Season Scouting for Turkeys with Phillip Vanderpool

Check back each day this week for more about "Scouting for Turkeys "

Day 1: Pre-season Scouting
Day 2: Scouting the Early Morning and Hunting Strut Zones
Day 3: Pre-Season Scouting for Turkeys with Phillip Vanderpool
Day 4: Finding Turkeys During Turkey Season with Rick White
Day 5: Scouting for Turkeys with Eddie Salter


Entry 447, Day 2