The Bowsite -

 Scouting - 4/18


 Spring Turkey Live - 1999

Pre-Season Scouting

Tom filmed on 4/18/99

After hearing several Gobbles in the forest behind my home, I decided to set out my blind and try to film some turkeys. To my complete surprise, this tom walked out of the woods and into the field at 7:00 AM. There was a hen feeding and he gobbled at her, non-stop, for ten minutes. Talk about luck!

Video of this tom as he goes into full strut, then gobbles at a hen feeding in the foreground (1.4mb)

After filming the tom, I headed to the farm where I had hunted last fall. There were a sizable number of turkeys in the clover fields all winter so I started there first. Within 5 minutes I walked into a flock that was feeding along a field edge. I spotted at least one gobbler in that bunch. Video of this flock (384k).

Clover - the food source

The flock soon picked me off and ran into the woods. I made my way down along the field edge looking for strut marks and turkey sign. There was nothing for a quarter mile until I found fresh sign at the back corner of the property. Here are strut marks in the dirt:

Strut marks in the dirt

While at this corner I noticed more sign including some fresh tracks in the mud where a group of birds had recently crossed. The size of the prints seemed to indicate younger birds, probably hens and jakes.

Tracks in the mudd

As indicated in the picture below, the majority of sign was found where I have placed an X on the left corner of the picture. It appears that most of the birds are using the fence crossing at the right X. After checking out the farm, this area is where I'll concentrate my efforts unless the sign dries up here.

The field corner

After stepping into the woods it was obvious where the turkeys were moving from. I found a number of scratchings and droppings that were quite fresh.

Scratchings and feather

Video showing a fresh scratching and hen turds.


Conclusion - The birds are starting to get cranked up. I did not see as much tom sign as I would have liked, but they are certainly around. There is nothing better than actually sighting birds, which we did, so the spring hunt is looking good. Opening day is 5/5/99 so we still have some time to figure out what the birds are doing. Some things I would have liked to locate are the roosting areas and more droppings. Overall it should be a good spring hunt.

 Some Things to look for when scouting Spring Gobblers

  • Actual Turkey Sightings - It goes without saying that spotting toms is the best sign. But don't worry too much about toms, find the hens and the toms will be close by.
  • Gobbles - listening for gobbles is a great way to scout birds. I stay at a distance in the field and listen to roosting birds. toms will gobble more at first light than in the evening but it is still a good way to locate birds. I prefer not to disturb the birds in the morning.
  • Strut Marks - If you find strut marks, then there's a tom around.
  • Scratchings - Turkey need to eat in spring too. I found lots of scratchings during my scouting trip today, there are still acorns and the birds are feeding on them while the green fields become lush.
  • Droppings - J-Shaped droppings are indicative of gobblers and round and straight droppings are typically hens. They are tough to spot.