Locating A Preseason Turkey: 3 Key Approaches
In the late winter/early spring, gobblers begin to separate from their flocks. Mature Toms will usually seclude themselves from other birds, while Jakes will form small flocks with each other. Targeting mature birds comes with some challenges, and knowing how to decipher their whereabouts can be fun but also challenging.
Finding Your Spot:
Turkeys generally like to roost in high elevations respectively to mountains, hills, or fields. Try to find sign such as old digging, scat or tracks in the mud. This will be the number one strategy for finding the area that the turkeys are inhabiting. Turkeys will migrate from the roost to areas that they can display and breed. This path that they walk can vary day to day, but the area generally stays the same. Along this route, they will attempt to feed leaving behind the tell tale signs of their activity. Find these areas and make either a mental note, or write it down in a hunting log. That way you will be able to target these areas during listening hours.
Listening in the morning has proved to be extremely effective in pinpointing a long beard. Get into the woods a half an hour before daylight. The woods will be quiet so take your time moving through the terrain. Find an area that puts you within a couple hundred yards of the bird. Sit down and let the woods calm down from your walk into it. As daylight approaches, the woods will begin to awaken. You will hear the morning wake up call from all the songbirds and hopefully you will hear the gobbler sound in the distance. If he does not gobble on his own, you can try a few different strategies. The most effective that I have found is, hooting like an owl. Using either a call, or your mouth, make a sound an owl makes. This will trigger a shock gobbler response from the turkey and can help you locate him. Other hunters use crow calls, or even hen call to the bird. I prefer not to hen call at all before the season, but it can be effective. Use these same tactics for listening at dusk. Remember, turkeys may not gobble everyday and you may have to return to previous spots to verify their location.
If you live in an area where you can drive past fields or on back roads, use this to your advantage. Drive past fields and scan for turkeys, or drive through the woods and look for them in the road. Turkeys like to display in open areas, and they also frequent roads to pick gravel. Driving these areas help you to cover more ground and being able to locate multiple birds can be very advantageous for hunting. Unpredictable events happen while hunting and being able to make a quick move is a must. So having multiple spots is key to success in the turkey hunting game.