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Thread: What to look for when scouting??

  1. #11
    Old Mossy Horns hawglips's Avatar
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    Ideally for me, if I know turkeys use the land I hunt, I stay out of the place till I walk in with my shotgun to hunt them. I want it to be a surprise when they hear that last putt and stretch their neck up for me. The problem is in the "knowing" they are there. Sometimes, they just ain't where they were last year or the year before that.

    If it's new land, I want to go in and familiarize myself with it, stealthily. But I don't think I've scouted anywhere for many years - other than scouting with gun in hand. Probably mostly because I live so far away from where I hunt. But also because I don't like to muddy the waters I plan on drinking.

    The bad thing about not scouting is that if you don't know the land at all, you can easily get in a bad situation when you try to move on a gobbler. I once set up on a couple hot gobbling birds, only to find out later on that they were in the next state across the Savannah River. Deep water is always something you are better off knowing about before you try hunting the turkeys that live there. I once went to tremendous difficulty to get across a wide, deep creek while going after a gobbling bird, only to find someone was already set up on him. And getting back across was even harder.

    There have been multiple times I've had a wall of briers or something blocking my approach and costing me valuable time and position during that critical moment when I was trying to set up on a roost gobbling bird. I once had to crawl through a wet ditch on my hands and knees because it was the only way I could see to get to the bird that was in there behind the thicket of thorns and saplings that I didn't know were there. I could have just walked around it if I'd been familiar with the land, and saved myself a lot of angst and discomfort. But hey, I made memories!

    Another fond memory of not scouting was the time a new beaver pond that wasn't there ten years ago (the last time the guy whose land it was on was in there - I was trying to help him get his first bird) was between us and the roost gobbling bird. That story ended well though, in spite of him falling in the pond while we walked across the beaver dam trying to get to the bird. It was nothing short of miraculous that we killed that bird. And you can't count on miracles working for you too often when it comes to killing turkeys.

    Trying to maneuver up the side of a mountain through the laurel thickets to a gobbling bird is another fond memory I have about not scouting. Finding heavy equipment had been in there all week digging and cutting is another not-scouting surprise I've found. Another is finding out they timbered the land, after getting up at dark thirty and driving 2 hours to get there on opening day by gobbing time. So, not scouting definitely has a down side.

    And if the birds just aren't there that year, you waste valuable hunting time showing up and expecting some action.

    The good thing is that once you know the birds are using an area, and the habitat doesn't change much, chances are fairly good they will be using that area into the future. I have this one place that I found birds using in the middle of the day back in 2010, and killed at least one bird there through 2015. It was a reliable place to bring a kid or newbie. Then last year - they were gone. So, you never know....

    I scout a lot on Google Earth though. Mostly daydreaming, but occasionally figuring out something that does you some good.

    Anyway, this time of year, scratching and tracks are probably the easiest thing to find. That brings to mind another fond memory of the Ghost Gobbler's tracks....
    "If you are serious about turkey hunting, then turkey hunt; if you want to relax, go fishing or sit in a deer stand." ~ L. Williams

  2. #12
    Four Pointer Dolfan21's Avatar
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    When you do find a group of scratchings, you can tell their direction of travel by understanding the they kick the leaves behind them as they scratch usually. Seems obvious when you think about it but its just a little tip to help you find them once you are on some sign. Hen droppings are usually a blobby blob and jake/tom is in the form of a j or straight line in most cases.
    A poor craftsman blames his tools.

  3. #13

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    As has been stated already, scout the land. You want to know every obstacle, no matter how small,that's out there. You also want to know about potential areas where a gobbler will want to go to strut and gobble up hens. The turkeys will tell you where they are when the season comes around, knowing the land and how it lays will help you make a good setup.

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  4. #14
    Ten Pointer Weekender's Avatar
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    I liked your post, hawglips. Good points there on the need for scouting. LOL. Very enjoyable reading.

  5. #15
    Ten Pointer Weekender's Avatar
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    I saw a "bachelor" group of hens several times this fall. 12 hens.

    I'm embarrassed to admit I don't know when hen groups and gobbler groups begin to break up. Never too old to learn, I guess. Anybody want to comment on this?

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weekender View Post
    I saw a "bachelor" group of hens several times this fall. 12 hens.

    I'm embarrassed to admit I don't know when hen groups and gobbler groups begin to break up. Never too old to learn, I guess. Anybody want to comment on this?
    They will start to break up when they start establishing their nesting areas. Hens will still be in groups, although smaller groups, on up into spring.

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  7. #17
    Old Mossy Horns bshobbs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bowhuntingrook View Post
    It is likely the turkeys you see now will be somewhere different in the Spring. Different foods and closer to nesting habitat.
    Amen to that.... Right now I have turkeys right behind the house. See them on the trail cameras all the time. The closer season gets, the more spread out they seem to be. They move more to traditional breeding and nesting areas. That meaning plenty of places to take the poults so they can hide and feed.

    Good post Hawglips.... a couple of places I use to be able to hunt, the turkeys always used the same areas. They roosted most of the time in the same area, walked down the side of the woods, feed thru the same draws. Those places I never scouted, just went hunting and usually scored, half the time with a bird on the ground, rest of the time got to see birds and where they went for future hunts.

    Right now a place I hunt I do the same thing. Right before season I go in, get close and just listen. When I hear the birds I figure where they are at and back out. Opening morning I go to the same spot I usually sit and wait.
    Last edited by bshobbs; 01-15-2017 at 03:27 PM.
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