- April 25, 2018
For us outdoor types, two big openers come up in April; first, the regular trout season for our part of the state opens on April 14, and then on April 28 spring gobbler season opens.
Those of us who are serious about these activities don’t sit around and wait for the opening day, but rather we spend considerable time and effort preparing and scouting. Some of us have been on the streams already, and in the case of spring gobblers, many of us have already located potential hunting sites for that longbeard.
Pinpointing some potential gobbler hunting sites ahead of time can greatly improve your odds. Of course, I’m talking about some preseason scouting; but scouting can be accomplished in many ways. I have been “scouting” for several months; I guess in a sense my scouting never stops — I’m scouting every time I go somewhere. Seeing birds consistently in any given area throughout the late winter and into early spring is going to garner my attention even if they are hens. Remember, come spring, gobblers are in hot pursuit of hens, so if you know where there are a good number of hens, it’s a pretty safe bet there will be gobblers nearby.
This past month I have, in fact, been watching (from my vehicle) two large groups of turkeys in two different locations. Admittedly, I can’t say that I have seen any bearded birds in either group, but I’m sure there are gobblers in the vicinity. In one case, the farmer spread manure one evening, and I told my wife that I would be surprised if there weren’t turkeys in that field feeding on the manure; two days later we went by and spotted over thirty turkeys in the field. The fact that turkeys can be spotted in any field, field edge or even wooded location in the early morning hours, is also a good indication that they are roosting nearby. Knowing where roosting sites are located is even better for the spring gobbler hunter. Being handy to that spot early in the morning probably increases your chances since once gobblers get with a bunch of hens, they can be hard to pull away.
I’ll be honest, most of my preseason scouting is by looking from a “safe” distance or simply just listening in the morning for gobbles. I don’t scout with turkey calls, but on occasion, I may use an owl hoot or a crow call to entice a gobble. While I may hike a bit, I am careful not to penetrate too far into my potential hunting grounds. Of course, if you are hunting public grounds, as I very often do, who knows what kind of activity the area may have seen or how much preseason calling there was before you got there.
If you plan to hunt public ground, you may want to hit the big woods where little or no preseason movement or calling was likely, and where even you may not have had a chance to pre-scout. There was a time when most of our turkey hunting was in the big woods, but turkeys seem to have adapted fairly well to the mixed farm fields and wooded patches that are now a big part of the landscape. Those same open areas and fields also get a lot of looks from potential gobbler hunters; in most of those situations it’s private land, so that keeps most hunters out, but it’s a good deal if you are one of the hunters who have permission to hunt.
There is still time to scout from a safe distance and without much disturbance — in fact, I plan on doing exactly that on my next trout fishing foray to one of the Delayed Harvest, Catch and Release stream sections.