Skip to main content

Spring Turkey Tips: Finding Good Ground, Learning Flock Behavior the Keys to Success

Scouting turkey flocks and tracking their movement in an area before the first hunt will pay huge dividends toward scoring a longbeard

Spring Turkey Tips: Finding Good Ground, Learning Flock Behavior the Keys to Success
Though some hunters can simply walk out their backdoor and bag a longbeard opening morning without scouting, this is the exception, not the rule. For most spring turkey chasers, good preseason scouting is a must. (Photo courtesy of Howard Communication)

If you're a newbie to the sport of spring turkey hunting or maybe you lost your hunting lease, once the second month of the new year rolls around – no later than March – it’s time to get busy in the search for a spot to chase long-bearded gobblers.

One way is to scour the Internet, looking for federal and state properties where spring turkey hunting is possible.

Another way of discovering a potential hunting spot – including newly open land that may not show up on a Google search – is to call and talk with biologists and game wardens working for local, state and federal agencies.

Heck, since desperate times call for desperate measures, even consider calling the National Wild Turkey Federation regional director (www.nwtf.org) in your neck of the woods to see what he or she might suggest.


The work described above will help you find public lands open to spring turkey hunting. But keep in mind such lands can be (a) limited in availability and (b) heavily pressured by other spring turkey hunters.


Which leads me to suggest the following idea – networking to find a spot to hunt.

Sometimes, you'll be surprised by how such conversations with family, friends, neighbors and even people you attend church with can yield a solid lead or two.

Or better yet, permission to hunt in a prime spot with a few gobblers strutting about.

If the ideas mentioned above fail to produce any leads, then don't give up just yet.


Ever had to deal with a hung-up gobbler? Check out this turkey tip from Michael Waddell.

Instead, fire up the pick-up truck and drive through areas that hold turkeys, scouting with both binoculars and your ears.

When you locate a promising area or two, find out who the landowner is, politely knock on the door and ask permission to hunt.


After all, the worst they can do is to simply say “no” to your request. And they might even say yes, opening the door to a gobbler-getting hotspot.

Spring Turkey Scout Tips for Success
Scouting turkeys from a distance with binoculars is a good practice to help not disturb and alter flock movement and patterns. (Photo courtesy of Howard Communications)

If you strike out on the ideas mentioned above, then try checking the want-ads of your local newspaper or county shopper. Better yet, check an Internet site like a hunting forum (www.texashuntingforum.com is one example) or even Craigslist to search for a spot to lease for spring hunting.

And finally, if all else fails, before abandoning your desire to hunt turkeys during the spring, consider investing in a guided or outfitted trip in your region.

Ok, once you've secured a spot to actually hunt gobblers this spring, the next part of this turkey hunting two-step is to lay some boot leather down by scouting the property out.

Why is that? Because a great turkey hunter I know of once said that hunting spring turkeys is 95 percent hunting and only 5 percent calling.

What does that mean? Simple; if you want to cook up some wild turkey, then up your odds of that happening by getting out of your easy chair and scouting the property thoroughly.

First, talk with biologists, landowners, game wardens, other hunters or even the local mailman or delivery truck driver to obtain up-to-date information on turkey sightings that will help serve as a starting point in your scouting chores.

Next, actually get out onto the property and look for physical turkey sign – tracks, droppings, feathers, etc.

As you search for such sign, be sure to try and identify where the birds are roosting.

Finding a roosting site can be accomplished by listening for gobbling birds at first and last light. Such spots also can be found by walking the woods – especially along rivers, creeks and streams – and searching the ground underneath tall trees.

In terms of the latter, be on the lookout for lost feathers (including breast feathers, primary wing feathers and even big tail feathers) and droppings.

After figuring out where the birds are roosting on the property you're going to hunt, the next thing you'll want to do is to discover where the birds are feeding on a daily basis.

Keep in mind turkeys will eat just about anything, so cast your net far and wide while searching for potential food resources.

Such spots can include leftover acorns and pecans; the remains of last fall's agricultural fields; sprouting crops, food plots and native foods for this spring; insects, worms and small amphibians like frogs; and (in states where the practice is legal) feeders that dispense corn and other types of grains.

Here in Texas where I live, one thing I'm always on the lookout for are cow pastures where plenty of insect-attracting manure is being left behind.

Find an area where such manure piles abound and it's a good idea to be on the lookout for cow patties that have been flipped over. Find a few flipped cow pies and you can be assured turkeys are on the prowl searching for a few-high protein snacks.

In addition to discovering where turkeys are roosting and feeding on a regular basis, you'll also want to be on the lookout for such spots as potential nesting grounds (usually in heavy cover on higher ground away from creeks and bottomland areas that could flood); strutting zones (where wing drag-marks are left behind by strutting gobblers); and travel corridors (field edges, ranch roadways, farm two-tracks and game trails that are littered with turkey tracks and droppings).

Keep in mind turkeys are wild animals and as such, they will not take kindly to a lot of human intrusion. So keep your on-the-ground scouting chores to a minimum and wait for the middle of the day before setting out on a scouting mission.

Tips for midday, early-season Jelly Heads

Better yet, rely on long distance scouting with a good set of binoculars to observe turkey activity and movement.

And don't forget to press your supply of trail cameras used during fall into spring service (where the practice is legal, of course) since such devices can help a hunter figure out when and how turkeys are moving across a property.

What should a turkey hunter do once they've assembled a good array of turkey hunting intelligence? Simple, record all longbeard intel in a hunting notebook and/or on a GPS device.

Why? Because by connecting all of the dots gained from scouting chores, a hunter can then gain a good mental picture of where the turkeys are roosting, what they are feeding on and what their daily travel routes are as the spring season approaches.

When such an understanding is gained of how turkeys are utilizing a particular piece of hunting ground, then the first step has been taken to tagging a plump longbeard for the roasting oven or frying skillet.

If you can call a little bit and shoot straight, that is.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months.

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Increase a lure’s effectiveness by pairing it with the ideal reel speed.

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Michael Cassidy and Paul Pluff talk about their elk hunt in New Mexico using the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter.

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Most fishing rods feature both an action and a power rating, but what do those ratings mean and how do you use them to select the right rod for different scenarios? In this video, outdoor writer and tackle specialist Shane Beilue breaks down the difference between a rod blank’s action and power and discusses what the various ratings of each mean.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

This Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe makes the perfect wild game sandwich. Elk burger patties are accompanied by melted Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and Thousand Island dressing and then pressed in between two toasted and golden brown pieces of rye bread.Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe Wild Game

Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe

Kristy Crabtree - October 27, 2020

This Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe makes the perfect wild game sandwich. Elk burger patties...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time.10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

See More Trending Articles

More Hunting How-To

Don't let conditions be the reason you don't fill your tag; put yourself in position to succeed no matter what.No Excuses: Tag a Whitetail When It's Hot, Cold, Wet or Windy Whitetail

No Excuses: Tag a Whitetail When It's Hot, Cold, Wet or Windy

Bob Robb - November 10, 2020

Don't let conditions be the reason you don't fill your tag; put yourself in position to...

Resident Canada geese are a tough assignment for waterfowlers. Deciphering their resting and feeding areas can help you find success.Harass the Locals: Crack the Code on Resident Canada Geese Waterfowl

Harass the Locals: Crack the Code on Resident Canada Geese

Mike Marsh - October 29, 2020

Resident Canada geese are a tough assignment for waterfowlers. Deciphering their resting and...

Want to make the most of this year's rut? Your success hinges on avoiding these common mistakes.Avoid These 10 Mistakes During the Deer Rut Whitetail

Avoid These 10 Mistakes During the Deer Rut

Bob Robb - November 11, 2020

Want to make the most of this year's rut? Your success hinges on avoiding these common...

Throughout November, blacktail hunters' chances improve as the weather gets wetter. Here's how to fill your tag in snotty conditions.Tough It Out to Tag a November Blacktail Buck Big Game

Tough It Out to Tag a November Blacktail Buck

Gary Lewis - November 12, 2020

Throughout November, blacktail hunters' chances improve as the weather gets wetter. Here's how...

See More Hunting How-To

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now