John's Journal...

Scouting for Turkeys

Finding Turkeys During Turkey Season with Rick White

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Rick White of Cedar Rapids, Iowa,  was introduced to the hunting tradition at age eight by his father. He began hunting small game and gradually progressed to the challenge of larger species such as deer and turkeys. White, an accomplished turkey caller, has won the Iowa State Turkey Calling Championship eight times, the Iowa Open six times, the Wisconsin Turkey Calling Championship in 1997 and the Nebraska Open twice. This week, White will tell us how to find and scout for turkeys in Iowa, where he lives.

Question: Rick, when does Iowa’s turkey season start?
White: Iowa’s spring season usually starts the second week of April. We had our first season in 1974. I began hunting turkeys in 1977, and my first successful turkey hunt took place in 1978.

Question: When do you start scouting for turkeys?
White: I scout for turkeys during deer season. Then in late winter, I take my binoculars and my spotting scope and startClick to enlarge scouting fields to make sure there’s a good group of gobblers that survived the winter. I also want to know where those turkeys are holding, and where I can begin searching for them when the spring season starts. Iowa has rolling hills with lots of timber, pasture and croplands. Therefore, almost any patch of timber you find will generally have turkeys roosting and loafing there. Also, I look for water sources, as well as timber, where the turkeys will roost, because with the fields and the agriculture we have in this region, the turkeys have plenty of places to feed.

Question: Rick, why do you have so many really-big turkeys in Iowa?
White: We have the Eastern wild turkeys in our area. Because there’s so much food available, our average 1-1/2-year-old and older gobblers will weigh about 24 pounds. The biggest bird I’ve ever taken weighed 28 pounds, and a few years ago, a hunter in Iowa took a gobbler that weighed 34 pounds.

Question: What makes the turkeys in Iowa grow so big?
White: The further north you travel, the bigger the turkeys get because these turkeys have to eat more to create more energy to stay warmer during the cold months. Also, we have a phenomenal food source here in Iowa with all the grain and the agriculture growing in this state.

Question: How do you pinpoint turkeys, Rick?Click to enlarge
White: The quickest, easiest way to locate the most turkeys in the shortest time is to ask the farmer on the land you want to hunt where he’s seen turkeys. The landowner is on the land all day, every day, and he knows more about where the turkeys live than anyone else. Early in the morning and late in the evening, I’ll use the Hunter’s Specialties Palmer Hoot Tube to sound like an owl and locate the turkeys. Later in the morning and in the middle of the day, I prefer to use a crow call to keep up with where the turkeys move.

Question: Rick, do you use a blind when you turkey hunt?
White: Anytime I’m bowhunting for turkeys or hunting with children or first-time hunters, I’ll be hunting out of a blind. Blinds are a great way to take people who can’t sit still or don’t realize how still you have to sit to call in a turkey. But the rest of the time, I usually hunt without a blind.

QueClick to enlargestion: Rick, when you’re taking a child or a first-time hunter to hunt turkeys with you, what blind do you use, and why?
White: I prefer to use the Hunter’s Specialties Boiler Room Ground Blind because it allows the hunter to move around inside the blind without being seen. If I’m taking children with me, I let them bring hand-held electronic games. Then they can play their games and keep themselves entertained. When the turkeys start coming in close, the children can watch the birds through the blind. Also, when I take kids hunting, I carry a big bag of miniature candy bars. My son won’t leave the turkey woods until he’s eaten every candy bar in that bag, because he knows when he gets home that his mom won’t let him eat those candy bars. So, if you plan to hunt turkeys for a long time with a child, make sure you have a really-big bag of miniature candy bars and hand-held video games. Then the child will want to hunt with you again.

Question: Which choke do you shoot, Rick?
White: I shoot the Hunter’s Specialties’ Undertaker Choke Tube. With the Benelli Super Black Eagle shotgun and the Undertaker Choke, the pattern is unbelievable. The Undertaker Choke Tube isn’t very expensive, yet it shoots like a really-expensive choke tube. If you watch the Hunter’s Specialties turkey videos, you’ll see that these chokes are very productive.

Tomorrow: Scouting for Turkeys with Eddie Salter

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 4