Nothing beats tipping over a tom on opening morning, but it won’t happen if you don’t know where he is. You should have a lock on three hunting locations that regularly hold turkeys. This way if your first location is a bust for any reason, like there are other hunters there, or the birds are just not there anymore, you have a couple of other good options to move on to. That beats going home early with no turkey.
Do the leg work, social networking and visiting that it takes to get permission on three properties.
To find hunting spots with turkeys, get to prospective spots before dawn and listen for toms gobbling and hens yelping at first light. Pin point their roost locations, then after they fly down, pattern their movement without disturbing them. This is the knowledge you need to set up on a roosted tom or set up along his route after fly down.
If you can’t do the dawn patrol for scouting then walk the property a week or two before opening day and look for sign. If you get a late dusting of fresh snow just before the season opens, this is the absolute best time to look for turkey tracks.
In the absence of fresh snow, look for tracks in soft mud or sand, feathers and droppings. Mark a waypoint on your GPS or make a note on a rough paper map of the property of the sign you see, so you can keep track of it all. The heaviest concentration of fresh sign will be the area turkeys are using frequently. If you see old sign and fresh sign together that’s a good place that turkeys use steadily.
Pick up all the turkey feathers you find and take them out with you. Obliterate all the turkey tracks and droppings you find. By doing this you will know that any sign you see on your next outing there will be fresh. Also you don’t want anyone else to see all that turkey sign or you may have more competition for that hunting spot.
Turkey season is already open in the southern states and is creeping northward. If your opening day will find you with crunchy snow on the ground from our long cold winter, you may need a change of plan. Especially, if you like to set up near roosted toms. You can’t sneak in quietly to set up on a roosted tom if you have to walk on crunchy snow. It would be better to set up in a blind near the food source that the flock heads for after fly down or along their route.