Scouting spring turkeys: Search for longbeards now, tag out later.
Hunters are quick to scout deer, but not as eager to scout for turkeys. There are a few reasons for this; however, the easiest to pin down is that turkeys tend to be less important to most hunters and quite frankly, easier to kill than deer. I know that is a generalization, but it holds some truth.
I used to be in the camp that would rarely scout turkeys, instead opting to run and gun and hunt on the fly so to speak. These days, with a pair of 2-year-olds at home and a hefty work schedule in the spring, I need to be much more careful about squandering my turkey time.
Knowing that, I’ve started to spend more time scouting birds in the hopes of putting myself in the right position on my very first day of hunting. To do this, I try as hard as I can to glass field edges and other areas where birds might be visible. Right now, that can represent a fine line between being extremely valuable and totally worthless. If the birds are on their winter food sources still, that can mean it's best to keep tabs on them only as far as watching for their numbers to dwindle. When they do, it means the flocks are starting to bust up.
Ditto for suddenly seeing a few random loners, or smaller groups of birds in the backs of fields. Once that happens, it’s time to start paying attention. In addition to glassing food sources, I also like to walk field edges, ridges, and logging roads while trying to spot tom tracks in the mud. Travel routes littered with big tracks indicate that I’m closing in on a spot to ambush a wayward gobbler.
Throughout all of this scouting, watch for potential blind locations or a milk run of calling spots that offer cover if you choose to run and gun. Turkeys can be amazingly predictable in the spring despite evidence that seems to prove the contrary. While they appear to be operating on random-whim mode, they aren’t. If you scout hard enough you’ll see patterns emerge out of the chaos. That’s when you know you’ve got them dialed and will very likely make the most of limited hunting time.