With turkey season just around the corner here in Michigan, we thought it was time to share a few scouting tips that have helped us bag the elusive thunder chicken.
1) Identify Spring Behavior: Observing turkey's during the fall and winter can be beneficial, but a spring turkey's behavior is totally different. By spring, the hardwoods that were originally attracting birds due to its acorn crop are now almost devoid of all nuts. Turkey's will begin to spend their time searching for food in greening fields, or plants in low watery areas such as creek bottoms or swamp edges.
2) Use Trail Cams: This has been one of the most beneficial tips we have received throughout our years chasing turkey's. Many people only take advantage of trail cams during deer season, but using them for turkey helps identify travel corridors for turkey's that reside in a particular area. Pay special attention to the pictures and how the turkey behavior changes as the season approaches. Are the gobblers strutting around the hens? Are they fighting with each other? These behavior changes will help you develop a game plan when season opens.
**Hint - set your trail cams along logging trails, open fields and hardwood ridges.
3) Set Up Early: Have you identified a place to hunt and need to set up a blind? Be prepared for the opener by setting up your blind a week or two beforehand to allow for the birds to get used to it in a particular area. You can use a traditional pop-up blind and blend it in with surrounding vegetation, or you can opt for going the natural route and setting up next to a tree. Evergreen branches work well for masking your silhouette to remain unseen from an incoming turkey.
4) Midday Scouting: Avoid bumping hens and gobblers that are pairing up from the roost by doing some midday scouting. Walk logging paths or field edges with a crow call to see if you can entice a shock gobble. As an added bonus, by walking around during midday you will be able to locate footprints and feathers, which will indicate the area is being used by turkey's. Set a trail cam in this area to help develop a timeline of when the area is being occupied by the birds.
5) Practice Makes Perfect: Dusting off the calls the night before opener is probably not the best idea to prepare. However, with only a limited amount of time between work and the daily grind, practice seems to be the one thing that gets pushed off to the side in preparation. Set some time in the morning, or evening a few weeks before the season to practice your calls. Taking advantage of your daily commute to practice your mouth calls is a great way to pass the time and hone your skills.
6) Create an Aerial: Creating an aerial map of locations where you have sighted turkey's roosting, hanging out midday, or even gobbling is a great resource for late season hunts when turkey's seem to shut down on vocal responses. Late season turkey's become call shy especially on public lands, which makes them difficult to map if you are going into a new area without prior scouting. Being able to reference an aerial map with updated information will increase your chances of bagging a bird by season's end.
Don't just take our word for it. Share with us your top turkey tips that have brought you success.