The Very Early Bird: How To Scout Winter Turkeys

It's never too soon to scout spring gobblers

Photo by John Eriksson/Images on the Wildside

Yes, it's winter. Yes, the birds are flocked up. But if you pay close attention now, you'll learn valuable information that could help you on opening day. Here's the cheat sheet for what to study this month, so you don't have to cram later.

Focus On Feed
On feedlots and in stubble cornfields, cattle hooves break up snow and ice, making the waste grain, silage, or weed seeds underneath accessible to turkeys. Glass these areas to get an idea of how birds have wintered, what condition they're in, and how many turkeys may be in a particular area. If the weather stays cold, the birds may be in this same pattern on the season opener.

Listen Up
Turkeys will gobble with snow on the ground. That's why, on a sunny 35-degree morning, you should be atop a ridge, listening. Hearing enhancement, such as Walker's Game Ear products, will help you pin down more birds from one location. Find an Eastern's roost and know that in spring, there's a good chance that bird will still be partial to that tree or grove.

Multitask
While you're hunting bushytails in February, also look for turkey tracks in the snow to reveal fly-up and fly-down locations, travel routes, and pinch points—like a washout underneath a woven wire fence. On especially sunny days, you may even find strut marks from overeager gobblers. These are excellent ambush spots, and perfect for blinds, come spring.