Turkey Scouting V2.0: Effective Digital Spying on Longbeards
Utilizing aerial mapping apps and a network of trail cameras to locate, pattern and identify transitional-behavior phases will increase your odds to connect with longbeards throughout the entire spring season
As with deer hunting, trail cameras are extremely useful tools for patterning turkeys for the spring season. (Travis Faulkner photo)
As turkey hunters, we love and often dream about those perfect spring mornings when everything just falls into place and goes our way. You know exactly what I’m talking about; it’s those days when the longbeards are feeling frisky and hammering loud on and off the limb.
They’re seemingly addicted and mesmerized by your calling, which has them swelled-up, puffed-out and ready to walk right in front of your 12-gauge, 3.5-inch magnum shotgun barrel loaded with lethal dose of #5s.
In a perfect world, every hunting trip during spring turkey season would be that intense and crammed full of hardcore gobbling action. However, here in the real world, we all know it doesn’t always work that way. Sadly, you’re probably going to experience several of these days every season when gobblers will be downright stubborn, finicky, super-cautious and tight-beaked.
Consequently, you’re also going to face bad weather conditions such high-winds, rain, cold-fronts and even early-spring snow showers in some areas. All of which are subject to significantly decrease gobbling activity, and make things that much more difficult. In addition, other uncontrollable factors like hunting pressure also can make gobblers extremely call-shy and difficult to encounter.
When you work five or more days a week for a living, none of that really matters, because you’ve got to make the most out of every precious second you have in the woods. With that being said, let’s take an in-depth look at some next-generation scouting tactics that will keep you in lockstep with gobblers regardless of how tough the hunting gets.
Digital Scouting with Mobile Devices and Computers
Most of us are limited to how much time we can spend in the woods scouting and hunting. Family obligations, work, deadlines, commitments and unpaid bills always seem to conspire against us, especially during turkey season. This is why it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes on the Internet studying GOOGLE Maps, GOOGLE Earth or analyzing aerial photos and topographical maps of the places you plan to hunt. Within a few short minutes, you can locate several potential high-traffic areas turkeys are likely to use during a season.
Focusing on good locations such as fields, Kudzu patches, roosting sites, possible strut zones, feeding areas and travel corridors are all good starting points. Scouting digitally also is a great way to locate natural barriers that lead to those notorious out-of-range hang-ups, which can freeze a fired-up gobbler dead in his tracks. Pinpointing creeks, rivers, ditches, thickets and cliffs before hunting will help you choose the most productive calling setups once the gobbling action starts.
Digital Photo and Video Surveillance of Prime Locations
Once you’ve pinpointed high-traffic areas, you’ll need to monitor daily activity, habits and patterns of turkeys with a network of trail cameras. Strategically placing these surveillance units over feeding areas, strut zones, roosting sites and travel routes will enable you to locate longbeards and establish daily patterns. Turkeys often follow very predictable routines during the spring, which makes them extremely vulnerable.
Monitoring prime locations with multiple trail cameras will take the guesswork out of what you should do on those tough and challenging, non-vocal hunting days. Knowing exactly when and where longbeards hit a particular feeding area or work a specific strut zone can be a game-changer when they’re not playing fair. Finding out when and where hens will be visiting certain areas throughout various points of the day also can help you score big on a boss gobbler that’s not talking too much.
Spring turkey season is painfully short and most of us don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing the best days to hunt; in reality, the time to hunt is every free moment you have. We can’t always go when the weather is perfect, or when gobblers are being really vocal. Sometimes you have to lace up your boot strings extra-tight and leave the excuses at home. If you do your homework and know how turkeys behave in your area, you’ll be able to make the most out of every single hunting opportunity you season after season.