Wild turkeys begin their day, at first light, on a roost limb and end their day, in the evening, in the same way. Amazingly when a turkey sleeps, its toes, which clench the limb, don’t relax and they never fall off. If undisturbed they will use the same roost area again and again as long as the area around it suits their needs.
Knowing where they roost is a huge factor in successful turkey hunting. It is the first step toward figuring out where they will travel throughout the day and where you can set up along their path, hopefully to call in your tom.
Even if they roost on property that you can’t hunt, you will be able to hear them gobbling and yelping there, from quite a distance away, and learn where they go when they fly down.
If you find a roost on property that you can hunt, you have a full range of options for planning you hunt. You can sneak in close to the roost while its still dark and set up to call at first light, or you can call from a place along their route to feeding areas.
A roost will usually be in mature timber with a clean understory – not too much brushy vegetation on the ground. They like a clean runway for take off and landing with no vegetation for predators to hide in. They can see quite a distance from their roost limbs, twenty feet feet in the air, and take a good look around for danger before they fly down.
Turkeys will roost in evergreens or hardwoods. But, early in the spring hunting season, before the leaves come out, tall pines offer them security cover and a thermal break on cold nights. A stand of mature pines that is exposed the east and the rising sun is really to their liking.
The best time to identify a roost is at first light when toms gobble on roost to call in hens. They sit on their limbs gobbling and watching for hens to come to them before they fly down to them.
A roost sight will have a few wing feathers strewn about, because when they fly up or fly down is when their primary flight feathers tend to fall out. There will be a lot of droppings around too.
When you find a roost sight, don’t spook turkeys by hunting there often and bumping them off it. They need to feel secure at their roost to stay in an area. Just use your discovery to keep tabs on them from a distance as you plan where you will set up for that noisy gobbler you hear on roost.