How to Find a Turkey for Opening Day

By Brodie SwisherMarch 6, 2024

Turkey seasons will soon be opening up across the country. It’s an exciting time of year as hunters return to the spring woods in search of the greatest game bird of all time. But bagging your bird won’t come easy. Turkeys can often prove to be one of the toughest hunting pursuits hunters face each year. Turkeys will leave you flustered and scratching your head. 

To help tip the odds in your favor, we’ve put together a few of the key scouting chores you should be knocking out now as you prepare to go head to head with a gobbler this spring. Read on for a look at how to scout turkeys in the days leading up to the opener. 

Pre Season Scouting For Turkeys

Listening for Turkeys

Despite what some may think, turkeys gobble all year long. However, gobbling activity intensifies during the spring months when the courtship ritual returns. Tom turkeys will do their best to gobble up the local hens on a daily basis. By nature’s design, the hen goes to a gobbling turkey to be bred. So as you can imagine, the boss gobbler will be eager to let the ladies know of his presence. This makes him easy to locate on the mornings when he’s boldly singing the springtime song. From a distance, or while simply standing at your truck before daylight, listen for gobblers to sound off as they wake up and start the day. Drop pins and make notes on your smartphone as you begin to take inventory on the properties you hunt.

Looking for Turkeys

Driving the roads is another simple way to take inventory of potential turkey hunting locations. Regardless of whether you’re hunting private or public lands, turkeys will be doing their best to be seen by receptive hens. Fields are a great place to find them strutting for their hens before the sun gets too hot and sends them in search of shade. Rainy days are another good time to find turkeys in a field. They’ll find safety in a wide open field during a rain event when their sight and hearing is compromised, particularly in the timber. Keep a pair of binos handy and scout from a distance in the days leading up to the opener. After several return trips, you’ll quickly realize a routine among the flock that’ll help you map out the right move to make. 

Use Trail Cams for Scouting Turkeys

Pre Season Scouting For Turkeys

Deer hunters rely heavily on the use of trail cameras for their scouting intel. However, a lot of hunters fail to realize that trail cams work well for turkey scouting in the pre-season, too. They are a great tool for taking inventory, learning flock habits, behaviors, and travel timing. Now is not the time to put your trail cameras away. Load them up with fresh batteries and put them in place to keep an eye on fields, food plots, and travel routes to and from the roost. 

Read this article for more on – How to Use Trail Cams for Turkey Hunting


Best Sign to Find When Scouting Turkeys

Turkey sign left behind in the woods is easy to identify, if you know what you’re looking for. Your scouting efforts should include keeping an eye out for turkey scratching, scat, feathers and tracks. These are the main clues that’ll quickly tell you where turkeys have been hanging out. And as with any sign left behind, it’s up to the hunter to distinguish between old turkey sign and the fresh stuff. Don’t waste time hunting old sign. Just because they were there 2 weeks ago doesn’t mean they are still in the area. It’s important to find the freshest sign to narrow down your search for the best setup. 

Turkey scratching will look like someone’s been raking leaves in the woods. Leaves are raked back as turkeys feed their way through the timber looking for bugs. Tracks can easily be found in the mud or sand around a water hole, creek bank, or logging road. They are a good indicator of the places turkeys frequent on a daily basis.  

Nwtf's State By State Spring Hunt Guide

Final Thoughts on Scouting for Turkeys

Fortunately, scouting for turkeys is a fairly easy task. Again, with turkey gobbling at this time of year, they are typically guilty of telling on themselves and giving away their location. 

Turkeys are creatures of habit. Unless disturbed, they’ll do the same thing over and over and again. Use your pre-season scouting to nail down their daily habits and movement, and you’ll be well on your way to bagging your bird this spring. Don’t forget to put in the time to practice calling. When the moment arrives, be confident in your ability to coax a gobbler in range. 

Watch the video below as Tyler Barron scouts new ground to line out the ultimate opening day turkey hunt in Texas. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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