Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wild Turkey – The Hunt starts now

To the non-hunter, the word turkey is synonymous with Thanksgiving Dinner. To the hunter the word is synonymous with words like “challenge”, “wary”, and “adrenaline”. For most of us who hunt "Wild Turkey", we have begun crossing out the days on our calendars eagerly awaiting the season opener as a child awaits a visit from Santa Clause. This post is designed to serve as a reminder that the act of pulling the trigger on this wary creature is actually the culmination of many days of preparation….the actual hunt begins now.

Deer Season is over yet many of us spend time in rummaging through the woods looking for sheds that have fallen from the bucks we hunted this past year and look forward to hunting in the upcoming season. While granted, this is the best opportunity to scout for next deer season it is also a prime time to scout for turkeys - so why not multi-task? Remember though, that turkeys do travel into different areas in the spring – so do not expect the area that you see a huge flock now to hold that same flock when the season comes in. This is the opportunity to begin to see where and how they are moving. The final scouting you do for blind placement should begin about 3-4 weeks prior to your opening day. Where I hunt in southeastern NC, the opener is April 15th. As a result, I scout now looking for flocks. I begin honing in on my blind placement around the end of March.

What I am looking for?

Tracks – The track of the turkey is unique and you can gauge a lot about a bird’s size and gender by studying the track. If you come across a turkey track that is 4 1/2” or longer, you are looking at the track of a gobbler. Hens typically will leave tracks that are 3 ½” or less. As the season approaches, pay special attention to the area outside the track. When a gobbler struts, their wingtips generally drag the ground leaving lines in the sand….again another sign that you are on the right “track”.
Large Tom

Smaller bird - probably hen


Droppings This is the one time that your mother would understand why you are studying the “poop”. When determining the sex of the bird you are tracking, the droppings are vitally important. Note that hen droppings are generally looped or spiraled – typically the diameter is less than 5/16”. A Jake is slightly larger around 3/8” and Toms closer to ½”. Also note that the droppings of male birds are relatively straight or may have a slight hook.
Gobbler droppings

Hen droppings

Where do I look? -  The area I hunt is a two mile stretch on the banks of the Black River in southeastern NC. I found over the years that while I may discover turkeys on the “high ground” I generally find them roosting near or above the water. The only explanation that I could derive from the years I have been hunting here is that this allowed them further protection from predators. They do roam a big area, but they typically are roosting over the slews of the river. I also must add that I have heard many “ole timers” state that turkeys will not fly across water. Being that this is what I have always heard, I always believed it. That is until I had a gobbler fly over the river to a flock of hens I was watching. These birds are wary, however, they will fly across water.

When trying to find the Toms, I would suggest thinking like a hen. If you find the hens, I assure that there is a Tom nearby. If you find one … you will find the other.

Take notes - I like to go to my local drug store or office supply store and purchase a five pack of what I call “mini-composition” books. These are generally small enough to fit into my back pocket. I make field notes of where I am seeing the birds on each of my scouting trips. (I also keep one for deer and will generally have both of these on me at all times while in the field) I try to write down everything I can. It truly helps with the mental recollection of details…when you compare notes you sometimes find remarkable similarities with habitat and will begin to make your scouting more profitable.

Final Preparation - The final steps I would recommend is to begin fine tuning your calling skills now. This is something that you do not need to wait until the night before the hunt to perfect … it will not happen. I also recommend taking the time to pattern your gun. There is no doubt in my mind that "old reliable" is sitting there cleaned and ready, but it is vitally important no matter what game you are hunting that you are certain that you are going to have a "one shot – one kill situation."

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I appreciate your follow. I hope this helps you in preparation of the “Big Day” and I look forward to hearing your stories. When commenting feel free to leave additional advice that would make this scouting season better.
Happy scouting!

r.b. wright


  1. GREAT post and I had no idea that their poop was different between the two sexes! That crazy but very useful info!

  2. Thanks Kari! Hope the "poop" helps with your scouting...it is crazy but it is one of those things that once you know - you just do not forget!

  3. great information... thanks for the education. I needed that.

  4. Thanks Kerry -- I am delighted to have you as a follower. Greatly support what you do.

  5. R.B. thank you for the support. Having a degree in Forestry with and emphasis in Recreation and Wildlife Biology and having been a Pastor for the past 15 years I am so blessed to merge the to passions.

    Look forward to serving you.