Trail cameras and the spring turkey connection
One of the beautiful things about turkey hunting is that you don’t need to scout them to be successful. They are vocal, cover a lot of ground, and not all that bright. This means if you get in the woods with them, you’ve got a chance.
Of course, if you’re hunting a small property, taking kids out, or just want to ensure that you’re right on top of the best turkey action possible, scouting is necessary. There are many different ways to do this, but it is hard to beat trail cameras.
In fact, it’s almost like cheating if you have access to private ground. Turkeys are highly predictable even if it might seem like their springtime movements are random. They aren’t, and the earlier you hunt, the more like clockwork they can be. Later in the season, particularly in May when the bugs are out and food is everywhere, they are tougher to pattern.
But, from now until the end of April, running a few cameras in likely spots can tell you a lot about who is passing through and when.
To increase your odds of capturing actionable intel, consider hanging your cameras in spots where you suspect high traffic, like field corners and logging roads. Set them up either for long video clips, or burst mode with images. I generally like to set my cameras to capture as many images as possible per triggering event, which is usually about 9.
This is because the first turkey passing through is often a hen, followed by other hens and then gobblers. Nine images in a row is better than one in this scenario, particularly if you program your camera to reset as quickly as it can (without any selected delay between triggering events). You might get a lot of pictures of grass blowing in the wind this way, but at least you won’t miss any birds feeding or strutting through the vicinity.
I also like to set a few cameras out now and then check them about 10 days before the season. If the action is worth it, then I’ll put a blind up in the spot. If it isn’t, there’s still time to move on to a new area and try to figure out what was missing in your failed locations.