Scouting for turkeys: The old and new ways

Turkeys are typically tough to hunt, but by knowing and employing some strategy, you can be successful. The amount that you prepare for the upcoming season’s hunt tends to dictate how well you will do.

After many years of turkey hunting, I have created a scouting technique that will likely help nearly every hunter. I use three tricks that stack the cards in my favor, and give me the upper hand when it comes to harvesting mature birds. Anything that helps me harvest a bird once is entered into my book of strategies. Over the years I have compiled many tricks, but have found most of the time, what you do before season is just as or even more important than what you do once the season is open. The use of scouting tools and most recent information have assisted me in the harvest of many mature birds.

When hunting turkey, it's most important to hunt where the birds are. This seems obvious, but flocks move around quite a bit and keeping track of where the birds are hanging out helps a lot. I do this in several ways.

The first is visual observation. If you drive by a field that has strutting birds in it every morning on your way to work, you can likely bet they will be there when you show up to hunt. The problem is without watching where they enter and exit the field, you will have a hard time knowing where to set up. It's best to know where they will be transitioning, as to intercept and make a good shot on the bird. It never hurts to mention patterning your gun. Shoot your gun using a turkey head target at 10 to 50 yards in 10-yard increments. Make sure you get plenty of hits in the spine and brain. If you see your pattern falling apart before you reach the next 10-yard increment, don't shoot at a bird that far away. This prevents missing, and even worse, wounding a bird. Remember each time you change the brand of shell and size shot that you use, that you need to re-sight the gun most of the time.

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