Archives for January 2016

The Time to Scout is Now

turkey tracks

Winter is one of my least favorite times for a myriad of reasons but mainly because there is nothing to hunt.  That doesn’t, however, mean you shouldn’t be romping around in the woods.  In many places, shed hunting is hitting its stride about now, but where I live, you stand a better chance of getting struck by lightning than finding a shed.  So what’s the draw that keeps me in the timber?  Prime scouting weather.

With turkey season a mere three months away, now is when you should be getting your game plan together.  I know a lot of people go and listen for birds pre season and call that scouting but you’re really shorting yourself if you aren’t out there right now.  There may not be any gobbling going on, but the value of what the woods can tell you right now outweighs that ten fold.

The best thing about being in the woods right now is how much you can see, especially with a little snow on the ground.  Out here in the mountains, using the lay of the land to your advantage is what kills turkeys and there’s no better time to get a read on it than when the leaves are off.  With a little bit of snow for contrast, things like deadfalls, streams, and rock outcroppings that could mess up a willing bird can be mapped and marked.  I cannot stress how important knowing a piece of ground like the back of your hand will increase your odds come spring.  Knowledge like this has saved my ass more than once in the turkey woods.

I know this seems obvious, but it’s pretty easy to track stuff in snow.  But instead of just saying, “oh there’s a turkey track,” follow them.  See where they go.  See how the bird navigates his environment.  While it might not seem this way at first, turkeys don’t just arbitrarily walk through the woods.  There’s a reason they walk where they do and with their tracks telling the tale, you can use this along with your now superior knowledge of the terrain to help predict their movement in the spring.

Finally, one of the most important things about winter time scouting is that you don’t run a risk of messing up a place like you do when season is near.  If you bust a flock of birds, there’s still 90 days for them to calm down and forget about it.  And they will.  You can also cover vast stretches of ground in relative comfort, free of bugs and sweat.

So instead of sitting in the house complaining about cabin fever, get in the woods and look at what it’s showing you.  Time moves fast and turkey season will be on us before you know it so go get a head start and get your spring time plan together.   When you’re walking back to your truck this spring with an extra twenty pounds on your back, you’ll be glad you did.