Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Scout the Land

The gobblers you find before the season might be elsewhere later. Scout the late-winter habitats nearby for places you’ll hunt when Opening Day arrives, even if birds aren’t there now. (NWTF photo)

By Steve Hickoff

You’re stoked. Some spring turkey season states, like Florida, begin in March. By April, they kick in elsewhere as Missouri, Iowa and others commence. By May in New England, things are just starting to roll.

Like some of you, I’ve been out there watching turkeys. Just the other day I found 20-plus birds, mostly hens and jakes, with multiple full-fan gobblers strutting in the middle of that flock. Yes, my heart jumpstarted. Yes, I felt as excited as one of you turkey hunters would. Then reality kicked in.

They won’t be there by hunting season. 

Oh, they’ll be nearby, maybe only a quarter-mile away on one property I hunt; maybe a mile away on another.

Over the years, I’ve glassed winter turkeys early as some of you have, then watched post-break-up spring turkeys appear in woods and fields elsewhere; places you won’t find them now. 

Sure, some might ask why it might not be better to wait until after the flock break-up to scout. Got a tight schedule? Maybe that’s best for you. I like to get in the pre-season game, first by locating gobblers early, then by scouting the land nearby—especially if it is new to me. 

I scout my usual spots first, noting turkey numbers, both gobblers and hens. 

I then check out other locations new to me, expanding my range of possibilities.

As new locations go, I try to find turkeys there. Afterwards, I then scout the land nearby, knowing the habitat will draw hens (and the gobblers that follow) to those locations. 

Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side vehicle is a great way to cover a lot of land this way. It’s not enough to look at the big picture though. Break it down. 

Take note of potential roosting areas not far from open fields.

If possible, find open fields inside bigwoods locations which will likely draw turkeys but fewer hunters; a win-win. 

Right now it’s all about scouting the land you’ll want to find spring turkeys on later.