A Grand Slammer from way back, Matt Morrett, has hunted all four U.S. turkey subspecies successfully, scouting for them as early as possible. Strut Zoners should too.
For Eastern gobblers, the Hunter’s Specialties national pro-staffer looks for what he calls “greened-up” areas. Mountain bottoms. Farmland rolling into hills—especially south or east slopes, places that green up first. Hens will nest near fields, gobblers will follow, and you can locate them according to the sign you find: droppings, scratchings and feathers.
“Tracks in late snow help you identify birds as well,” Morrett says. “You’ll see winter farmland turkeys feeding on waste corn in spread manure. You can follow this activity right up until the season begins as days warm—even during the hunt.”
As Rio Grande turkeys go, find water holes on scouting trips. “Turkeys move there from their roosts every day,” says Morrett. Finding water near roosting areas, either natural or manmade, is his key to scouting Rios.
Osceolas live with varying water conditions. As a result, turkey ground sign in Florida swamps can be tough to find. To meet this challenge, Morrett suggests using binoculars to glass open areas near pine woods, backwaters and forested cover.
“Glassing works well for Merriam’s too in big open country,” he says. “Prairies have Merriam’s congregated heavily in cottonwoods; but they’ll travel a long distance as spring approaches, so scout regularly during the preseason, and watch their movements,” Morrett says. “It may take days to locate them in such big open country, but once you do, you’ll likely see a many gobblers together.”
How many of you Strut Zoners scout early and often? How many of you wait until the first day of your hunt? What have you been seeing out there so far this late winter season?