Turkeys now, turkeys later: Early-season longbeards on a predictable pattern
Provided you’ve got a pair of knee-high boots and the willingness to roam, you can get the jump on turkey season by scouting now. I like to look for a few different types of sign when I’m heading out in late March so I know where the birds will be during the opening weeks of the season.
The first is tracks. Lots and lots of turkey tracks. Whether there is a collection of them in a field or along a logging road, I like to see evidence of plenty of turkey activity. That typically means hens, and where the hens are traveling come mid-April, so will the gobblers.
The second thing I look for are roost trees with loads of turkey droppings underneath. If they roosted in a specific tree all winter long, they’ll likely roost there during April. If you find a good roost tree and you know a few spots where the ground is covered in fresh tracks, you can piece together the local flock’s travel routes.
Calling in a whole group of birds in the early season can be challenging, but it gets easier if you’re near where they want to roost. Knowing which trees they’ll sleep in, which trails they’ll walk along, and where they’ll likely feed gives you all of the intel you need for getting close and sweet-talking them into your setups.
This is easier on private land, and a necessity for public land hunters. If you’ll be sharing your spots with strangers, you’ll want to have as much pre-season information as possible and you’ll want some backup spots. The easy field-edge setup won’t last long, so you’ll need to work harder to avoid the crowds and find less-pressued birds.
You can start piecing together those things now, so get out and start searching for sign. Once you find it, look for suitable setups, whether it’s a spot to pop up a blind or simply a big oak tree to put your back against while you rest a shotgun across your lap.