Do you do much calling when you’re scouting an area to hunt? — Tim Benton
The simple answer? No, I don’t. When I’m trying to locate turkeys and learn their habits, I try to be a nonparticipating observer. I’ll listen for turkeys during early mornings and evenings, and I’ll observe birds — often from afar with binoculars — during daylight. I’ll carefully walk a property looking for tracks, droppings, feathers, dusting areas and other spots. Mostly, I want to learn about roosting areas, feeding sites, loafing spots and likely travel corridors between those places. I try to learn where they feel comfortable.
I rarely use turkey calls when scouting because I don’t want to lay any cards on the table. If you call while scouting, you run the risk of firing a bird up and having him approach you, and the encounter might end with you spooking him. At best, you’ve still revealed some of your strategic hand — cards you might need when the battle is for keeps. I’m extremely careful not to disturb turkeys or get busted while scouting. It’s true that turkeys have short memories and deal with danger all the time, but they will change their activities and location to some extent — albeit briefly — if they’re disturbed repeatedly.
The only time I’ll use turkey calls while scouting is if I’m on a trip and in a hurry. If I have two days to learn and hunt property, I’ll try to locate birds quickly by whatever legal means necessary.
Observe and listen before the season, and save that first call to an old gobbler for the first morning you hunt him. If you’ve done your homework, that call might be all you need.
— Brian Lovett