It's mid-March and I’m going nuts as I see all the pictures rolling in from my friends across the country that are slayin’ longbeards in states, like Florida, that are open. So to cure my itch as we still have about a month till we start opening up in the western states, I pass the time by scouting!
Now unlike most of the midwest and southern states, turkey hunting is a little different in the mountain states. In my home state of Colorado, you can scout birds preseason but this can turn into a weekly endeavor even throughout the season. Reason being, most of the birds I hunt get pushed to lower elevation as snow starts to accumulate. As things warm up the birds will move their way back up the mountain.
I always used to tell folks to start at snow line when looking for early spring gobblers, but I have found over the last several years you might be cruising right past that old longbeard. I think as these western birds move up the mountain they find little pockets that they like to hang in. If they don’t get much pressure and they have the tools for survival, i.e.: food, water, a place to roost and they feel safe, they are golden!
As we all know, with spring nearing we fight the weather and all the melting snow creates mud. So muddy roads late in the day can be an issue but also key for scouting. It’s almost a given that migrating birds will eventually cross the road, so looking for turkey tracks on main roads or old two tracks can give you a good starting point.
I don’t know how many times I have run into another hunter while standing over a fresh set of turkey tracks and we have the same old conversation….. Seen anything? Nope! Now this could be two turkey hunters testing wits, because as we know, the first liar doesn’t stand a chance. Usually you can tell by a short conversation if they are a newbie or not. “Don’t be that newbie”-- check those roads for tracks and also other indicators like droppings. This can give you a good idea or time frame as to when the birds moved through the area and if you are a week behind them or a day.
Here is another thing that drives me nuts. I run into a buddy and it's two weeks before the season and he says “Man, it’s gonna be a great turkey season!” I usually cringe as I ask why because I know what the answer is going to be. Yep, I called in three birds scouting yesterday…….UGH! My response is "that’s three more birds that are going to be that much harder to call up come opening day." Big no no! Don’t educate preseason birds. I know it’s tough. We all want to hear them gobble and come to the call, but it can spoil your opening day.
One call I will use while preseason scouting is our Loco Crow call. This is a great way to get birds to give away their location throughout the day. Pre-season scouting is also a great time of year to be looking for dropped sheds from that great big bull or buck that made it through the hunting season. You can literally kill two birds with one stone! No pun…. scouting for turkeys and shed hunting! Good luck this spring. Follow me on Instagram at jr_keller1.