Pre-Season Gobbler Scouting


The males really have only three things on their primitive minds now -- and none of those is mating. The first is survival: A turkey's senses of sight and hearing are exceptional, and this bird's wariness is legendary; those survival senses never shut off. The second is to establish dominance over other males in his flock -- a drive that begins immediately after hatching and never wanes or ceases. The third is simply to find food.

The females, of course, are driven by the two of those same motivators: survival and food. But their other instinct is to protect the jennies that remain with them. As many turkey enthusiasts know, the jakes have long since left the flock and are engaged in sorting out dominance issues in their young male gangs.

So at this time the birds are sorted out into what amounts to four separate flocks: the mature males; mature females that don't have young, having lost their broods for whatever reason; gangs of jakes; and assemblies of jennies with their maternal hen.


Start 10 or so days before turkey season. Biologically speaking, flock dynamics will from that point be basically stable until the hens begin to incubate their eggs -- a period of roughly six weeks.


If midday scouting isn't practical for you, go after work. The same type of information can be gathered in the evenings, and you have the additional possibility of hearing or seeing turkeys fly up for the night. Barred owl calls also can come into play for evening roosting excursions.

There are all kinds of reasons to visit hunting tracts many weeks before a season begins -- enjoying exercise and reestablishing contact with landowners, to name two -- but gathering information that'll prove valuable during the regular season isn't likely to be one of them. Wait until that 10-day period before the season begins, and your success rate will probably improve.