Turkey Scouting: Now, Later or Both?
Do you scout for turkeys now, later or both?
Turkey scouting can be almost as good as hunting sometimes. Fact is, some of us enjoy both equally. In Florida, and in the Deep South where spring seasons open earlier than up north, you might start turkey scouting today. In Maine, where the regular spring turkey season doesn't kick in until April 29, you might wait a bit. Or not. To answer the question as to what I prefer, I shot the photo of these gobblers this morning in northern New England.
Why start now? It can give you a little heart-thumping shot of gobbler goodness to help you get through the winter. Ice fishing can only do so much to keep your sanity. Scouting turkeys now can help you check for access changes at your favored hunting spots. Heck, it can help you get in shape for the spring turkey season to come.
Others would argue your time is better off doing something else these days. There's some truth to this if your only interest is tightly managing time to: (1) Find, (2) Roost and (3) Hunt spring turkeys during available seasons. Biology insists winter turkey flocks disperse over broad geographical areas to distribute genetics and expand ranges. The turkey restoration efforts over the past 50 or so years has relied on such thinking. As hunters we now benefit from the wild turkey's biological drive to roam.
This doesn't mean that "your turkeys" won't be there come opening day. Some states permit feeding winter wild turkeys and limited food sources hold birds. It could be argued food plots do this during the season (another post; another time!). I've had numerous discussions over the years with good buddies and acquaintances who claim they've hunted the same tough gobbler year after year. While there might indeed be some truth to this (one said it was a smoky-gray phase wild turkey that hung around annually), others argue different (difficult) gobblers might favor the same good habitat year to year. Different bird; same spot.
So what turkey scouting angle do you take? Now? Later? Both? Ever hunt the same tough gobbler in a specific location from year to year? Did you kill the bird?
Tell us your story in the comments section below and as always, thanks.
Steve Hickoff is Realtree's turkey hunting editor and blogger.