You can't beat the old scouting rule. Since I've scouted turkey's more in the last ten years and located spring roosts in my area I've had much more success. I will pinpoint flydown points, trail tendencies, feeding areas, and break up points from one month till season start usually with binocs and busting shoe leather. That way I can silently get in, set up, and not make a sound at season opener. Nine times out of ten I may not even have to use a call. I try to make as little noise as possible before daybreak and if the sun starts to show and there is no sign of a bird or they are taking another direction, then I'll start my calling...
Thanks dmcianfa...this actually touches upon another question i had (sorry all bear with me). My plan for scouting was to get out and starting with streams, look for signs (Turkey prints, scratchings, roosted birds) in the vicinity. With regards to looking for roosted Toms does that mean I would only see them in the early morning/evening? Do I only use the owl/crow/locator calls during this time frame?
dmcianfa, what you say makes perfect sense...I'd rather have an idea of where they are roosting before I get in the woods to hunt that morning....I know some folks like to drive/walk around at first light the morning they are hunting and use their locator calls to find a spot to set up in..but I'm in the Northeast and hunt dense hardwoods..not so sure I want to be tramping around in the thick stuff trying to find a sutiable tree to set up against...or is noise not an issue?
Ozarks is on the money here. I will scout before the season starts maybe once a week for four weeks. In that time I will usually drive to the property you intend to hunt awhile before light and listen very intently for gobbles that are induced from the natural owl hoots, crows, woodpeckers, or hawks. If I don't hear a gobble from these I may bring out the hoot call and give it a whirl. When and if I get a gobble from it, I will generally stop calling there and try to pinpoint where the gobble came from with maybe some aerials or topo maps adn mark them. I'll leave it at that for that day adn come back next week even earlier and hoof it in to the spot, but not be too intrusive or loud until I think I am about 100 or 200 yds from where I think they may be or I heard the gobble. I will listen again for gobbles as a result of natural sounds and repeat, but I never yelp, cut, cluck, or anything like that at them. Most of the time if you sit and listen you will hear them on their roost if your close enough start to cluck and stretch their wings. Once I pinpoint the grove of trees or exact tree they are most likely in I mark my spot in my gps or flag it if you don't have one when they leave. You can also do this towards evening if you see birds during the lattter part of the day. Pattern them the rest of the day and eye them without being seen, you should be able to get a good idea on where they are roosting from there too if your coming up on dusk. Granted this may take alot of time out of ones day and a whole lotta patience, but if you don't have much huntin' time to get your turkey like some states (5-7 days) it can pay off huge to know exactly where they are roosting. The trick is to be as least intrusive as possible and not be seen nor heard. Tough, I know, but you may get the hang of it. I do more listening than anything. After you get good at knowing the property you will naturally walk it and know what trees turkeys like to roost in. For me, it tends to be tall jack, red, or white pines. They love to roost in em as they are tall and have excellent roosting limbs and you will see branches on the limbs broke off that they hit on fly downs and what not. From there I may mimic a hunt on the last weekend before the season and setup in my spot and watch them and where they fly down exactly, feed, scratch, dust bathe, travel, etc...... If you know their patterns from the start of the day until the end you've already won half the battle in my opinion. If you can pattern them, you can hunt one property and go to another during the middle of the day if you know they are dust bathing for instance. I see alot of toms sunning in the middle of the day and will follow them from there with binocs and a bit of walking, so I wouldn't say I only see them in the morning or evening. Also, I never use more than a locater call before the season starts and I really never even use my hawk or crow call either as it is too sharp and I like to use those for more of a shock gobble during the season if they aren't responding. Just soft owl hoots I would say. Once I get a response, I cease calling altogether. I try not to educate them to much with my locaters before the season starts. It's more of a recon mission than anything. Glass, observe, stay out of harms way, move only when they are out of view. That sort of thing.