Spring Gobbler Scouting Plan

Follow this one-day itinerary before the season, and on opening day you'll be sitting pretty.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Dawn Listen
Before you leave home, grab binoculars, a notebook, a topo map, and a GPS. Bring lunch too, since this is an all-day project. At dawn, drive the roads, periodically stopping to listen or to get out of the truck and walk to a high vantage point. Mark the roosted birds you hear on a map or with a GPS. If you hear a bird fly down, listen, or use a crow or owl call to keep him gobbling to learn what route he travels first thing in the morning.

Morning Look
Watch open areas like fields and pastures for strutting toms. In the woods, look for strutters along logging roads and ridgetops, on flats, or in bottomland timbers. Walk quietly in heavy woods, keep your eyes peeled, and stop often to blow an owl or crow call. In open country, try to watch from a distance with binoculars.

Mark any strutters you spot on your map, along with the time you see them. If you know when and where a gobbler struts, you can get there before he does for a midmorning hunt. Look for hens feeding in open fields, too. Gobblers shouldn't be far behind.

Afternoon Connect the Dots
Once you know where the turkeys are, get out and pinpoint roost trees. Look for feathers, droppings, and tracks that show you the exact route the birds take after flying down. If you know where a bird roosts and where he goes first thing, you've found a good spot for an early-morning hunt.

Search the timber flats and logging roads for strut zones, indicated by drag marks and figure-eight disturbances in the leaves.

Gobblers don't feed much in the spring, but they follow feeding hens. Look at scratches in the leaves. The V-shaped scratches point in the direction of travel. If you find an area where birds have dusted, mark it as a good place for a late-morning hunt.

The more you can learn about obstacles like creeks, fences, and bluffs, the better you'll be able to guess where turkeys will travel, and the better you'll be able to set up in a position where a gobbler can come easily to your call.

Evening Put Them to Bed
Watch to see which way the birds approach the roost as they finish feeding. Mark potential ambush spots on your map if afternoon hunts are legal. Toward sunset, listen again for gobbling from the roost. Blow an owl call or coyote howler.