Just as athletes
prepare for the season by practicing on the playing field, it is important
for turkey hunters to pay a few visits to the woods prior to opening day.
any novice can wander into the woods on a good day, stumble across a vocal
tom and put a bead on him. But to enjoy consistent success, you need a
game plan that can carry you from opening morning to the close of the season.
To do this, you need to get out before the season starts and learn the
lay of the land and where the birds like to hang out.
Get to a high point before daybreak and listen
for gobbling. Try to pinpoint where the birds are roosting. Scour the woods
in search of roosting areas by looking for feathers and turkey droppings.
Do the same around field edges and along logging
roads or paths by checking for foot tracks, wing-tip drag marks from strutting
birds and even dusting areas. Spend some mid-morning hours sitting tight
along a field edge or in open woods, listening and watching. Record your
observations in a journal or logbook to determine patterns in the turkeys’
behavior. Including weather conditions and other factors in your notes
might also prove helpful.
A note of caution though: A lot of hunters are
tempted to include a little preseason calling along with their scouting.
It’s fun to get an ol’ tom worked into a frenzy. But don’t do it. Leave
the calls at home until opening day.
“Birds learn quickly when they hear calls but
never find a hen, or worse, find you,” said National Wild Turkey Federation
COO and avid turkey hunter Carl Brown. “It only takes a single close encounter
with a person to make for a call-shy gobbler.”
Once you pinpoint where the birds roost and where
they head during the day to feed, plan a strategy that puts you along their
travel routes. It is always easier to call a gobbler to where he wants
to go than to get him to go somewhere he has no desire to be.
National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is a great resource for turkey
hunting tips and other wild turkey information. Visit the NWTF’s website
at www.nwtf.org for information or call
(800) THE-NWTF to become a NWTF member and receive one of our great magazines
filled with turkey hunting tips and stories.
About the NWTF: In 1973 when
the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded, there were an estimated
1.3 million wild turkeys and 1.5 million turkey hunters. Thanks to the
work of state wildlife agencies and the NWTF's many volunteers and partners,
today there are an estimated 5.4 million wild turkeys and approximately
2.6 million turkey hunters. Since 1985, more than
$135 million NWTF and cooperator
dollars have been spent on over 15,000 projects benefiting wild turkeys
throughout North America.
The NWTF is a 390,000-member
grassroots, nonprofit organization with members in 50 states, Canada and
11 foreign countries. It supports scientific wildlife management on public,
private and corporate lands as well as wild turkey hunting as a traditional
North American sport.