John's Journal...

Scouting for Turkeys

Scouting for Turkeys with Eddie Salter

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: In 1985 and 1989, Eddie Salter of Evergreen, Alabama, won the World Turkey Calling Championship. Salter has hunted turkeys all over the nation and never has met a tom he hasn’t wanted to talk to with his Hunter’s Specialties calls. This week, Salter will tell us how to find turkeys during turkey season.

Question: Eddie, how do you find the turkeys you’ll be hunting during turkey season?
Salter: I start hunting turkeys during deer season. Turkey hunting is my first love. I search for places where I see turkeys and turkey sign. Of course, if I find turkeys in one area in the fall, turkeys may not still be in the same region during the spring. However, this information will give me a clue as to where to start looking for turkeys and identify where turkeys are living in that section of land. I begin seriously scouting for turkeys about one month before the season. I prefer to ease down creek bottoms before turkey season wearing my LaCrosse waterproof boots because I don’t make much noise then. You can Click to enlargeslip along the creek bottoms and not disturb the woods with these boots. I also like to walk firebreaks at this time of year. During the spring, timber companies and landowners will make good, clean firebreaks all the way around the areas where they’ll be doing controlled burning, which enables me to spot turkey feathers, turkey droppings and turkey tracks, as well as actually see turkeys. By walking creek bottoms and firebreaks, you can move much faster and quieter and spook fewer turkeys than if you walk through the woods.

Question: Eddie, I know you travel all over the country hunting turkeys. When you get dropped off in a new area you’ve never hunted before, how do you locate turkeys?
Salter: I like to reach the woods well before daylight and listen for the turkeys talking. Remember, those gobblers have been waiting 10 months for mating season to start. Daylight hours have become longer, and that ole bird knows that it’s time to start calling up some sweethearts for a date. Generally, before you Click to enlargehear the first woods bird begin to call, just before daylight, those gobblers will tune-up and start talking. I usually start trying to get turkeys to gobble, if I don’t hear any, by using an owl call or a crow call. But if a tom still doesn’t talk, then I’ll do a little bit of cutting make that turkey gobble. Now, if you’re trying to find turkeys before the season, make sure that using calls in that state at that time of year isn’t illegal. Some states prohibit the use of turkey calls before the season. If a turkey’s in your area before the season, he’ll usually gobble to a cutting call. If I locate a turkey, I don’t just say, “Okay, I’ve got you. I know where your roost is.” I stay with the turkey. I want to not only know from what tree the turkey’s gobbling and in what direction the tom will travel after he flies down from the tree. For instance, if I hear a turkey gobble from the roost and then hear him fly down, start gobbling and moving north, instead of planning to go to that roost tree the first morning of the season, I’ll take aClick to enlarge stand about 100-yards north of the roost tree. I’ve done this, and before I even can make a call, a turkey may come straight to me. To successfully take turkeys, set up where the turkeys want to come, instead of trying to go to where they already are positioned.

Question: Most people go to the roost tree the first thing in the morning, but you don’t. You usually don’t take a stand until after the turkey flies down. Why?
Salter: Many times, if you go to the turkey on the roost, you’ll flush the hens roosting with him and cause him not to gobble. Too, most turkey hunters, including me, go to the roost tree, and start calling to the gobbler while he’s still on the roost. When you’re talking to a gobbler on the roost, he knows you’ve heard him, and you’re on the ground. He’s waiting for you to come to the tree where he can see you before he flies down. I’ve found that if you let the gobbler fly to the ground and then start calling to him, many times the turkey will come straight to you because he can’t see you like he can when he’s in the tree. You’ll take more turkeys if you let the gobbler fly to the ground before you start calling to him than you will if you try and call to the turkey while he’s on the roost.

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 5