The reports of shutmouth gobblers are starting to come in by phone and email as the early peak of gobbling fades in some parts of the country, and dominant male turkeys settle in with their hens. They may gobble on the roost (to call hens to their position), and go silent (once the girls arrive). Nothing unusual about this, but some guys quit when it happens. Don’t. Pay attention to the evidence turkeys leave behind . . .

Hunters use the term “sign” to speak of one or many examples of evidence left behind by the quarry they’re hunting. Look for this . . .

1. Damp droppings say turkeys were there recently.

2. Concentrated feathers, old and new, can indicate a roost site when slightly dispersed, or a predator kill when tightly compacted in a small area.

3. Mixed sets of new and old tracks indicate turkeys use the area regularly.

4. Raked areas in the woods, along field edges, or in food plots, often indicate feeding zones. Hens go there. Spring gobblers follow.

5. Track size can indicate the sex and age of turkeys.

6. Lots of sign indicates bigger groups of turkeys, while spare evidence reflects fewer numbers.

7. Dusting bowls are fresh if the soil is loose, and other sign in them or even nearby is new.

Old sign may indicate turkeys have left the area for other food sources.—Steve Hickoff