By Steve Hickoff
Are successful opening day spring turkey hunts pure luck? Nope. Usually you earn the gobbler you tag.
SHIFTING HABITAT USE
You can study roost locations as they shift during the spring dispersal when turkeys move around in breed-driven mode. Imagine the hunt you’ll have later. What path will a spring gobbler take to you based on their preferred roost? Will it chance at hanging up and not coming the distance? Will it be on an adjacent property? If so, can you secure permission there? You want to make it as easy as possible to get on that gobbler, call it in and tag it. Map out access. Plan your hunt.
SCOUTING ON FOOT
Cover all the ground you’ll hunt on foot, reading recent turkey activity (tracks in mud and dirt, fresh droppings, scratchings and molted feathers). Listen to turkey talk, learning about current conditions as vocal birds move from morning roosts to feeding/strutting areas. Pinpoint activity.
Drive-by road scouting in the off-season helps you get a fix on local birds, glassing distant turkey flocks now and later as the season approaches. Look for strutters with hens, plus gobblers without hens. You should also note other hunters scouting to anticipate possible opening day pressure. This might be a better late-season spot if opening day will see a lot of traffic.
Your four Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side wheels can help get you deep into country other hunters never see. Take time now to plot a course far into the woods. If you find winter turkeys now, they may not be there in spring. Then again, habitat tends to draw shifting patterns of turkeys if roosting cover, food and nesting areas are all available. Don’t scout just once; do it often.
KEEP A TURKEY JOURNAL
Plot your opening day hunt now. Record turkey movements in a journal as birds change habitats. Note shifting roost sites and feeding zones as conditions vary. Create a hunting playbook. You can start the turkey pre-season today, even if you don’t carry a gun or bow until later. You will soon enough.