Turkey Scouting: Key To Success!

I don’t think many hunters put much time and effort into scouting for turkey, and I get it. For most turkey hunters they have one spot on their buddy’s place or a small area where the turkeys either are or are not. Which can make turkey hunting a quick hit or missed spring season. But if you are hunting public land, scouting can make quite the difference when it comes to being successful.

I think most public land hunters are realistic about their chances of killing a turkey on public land, and they are often just as happy with the interaction they get from turkeys as killing one. I have killed almost all my turkeys on public land but have also considered getting a tom to gobble to my call and come within 100 yards as a win. These birds can be difficult to find and even more difficult to hunt, but if you do a little scouting and look for some key indicatory you can up your chances at spring success.


I think one of the most obvious ways to be successful in any turkey location is to find the roost. These turkey treasures are often given away by old feathers on the ground and an unusual number of droppings below or on the tree.

Look for trees that turkeys roost in. You can tell by the droppings and feathers.

Some turkeys will roost in the same location frequently, others will choose roost trees hundreds of yards away from where they roosted the night before. But the one thing that you can be certain of is that if you find a roost tree, you know there are turkeys in the area, and you can adjust your hunting strategy accordingly to try and be successful.

Strutting Areas

Toms love to strut in open places and these can come in all shapes and sizes. I have seen a turkey strut in everything from cut cornfields to a two-track vehicle path. The key is finding some fresh areas where the turkeys have been strutting recently and being able to set up to intercept them or call them into an area that is already familiar.

Tom tracks and wing tips in the dirt.

The dead giveaway to a hot strutting area is tom tracks and drag marks from wingtips. To the untrained eye, it can be hard to spot, but it basically looks like two turkey tracks flanked by perpendicular lines. These are easily spotted in sandy soil.


Cover can be an overlooked aspect when scouting for spring turkeys. The gobblers could care less about seeking out cover, but the hens find it very important. Turkeys take several days to lay all their eggs. They will go out to forage and mate, then go back and lay one or two eggs. They repeat this process for several days before they go into true nesting mode.

Turkeys need cover like this to hide in.

Since the hens don’t want to stray far from the nesting area, they often look for good cover next to a food source. This means that the gobblers will come around looking for some action because the hens are concentrated to a specific area.

Turkey Tracks

With a few quick scouting trips to a potential new turkey spot using these three simple signs, you can greatly increase your chances of taking a tom. We often take the turkeys gobble for granted as the one true sign that a turkey is in the area, but often we are met with silence when we hunt public land. By getting out and looking for these signs of turkey presence you can be certain that turkeys are or are not in the area based on what you find. Either way, it allows you to spend a little more time in the spring woods, which after a long winter always sounds like a good idea.

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About the author: Jake Wallace was introduced to the shotgun sports after breaking his hips when he was 11, which forced him into a wheelchair for 23 months. He saw a shooting program on one of the outdoor networks and thought that it was something he could do from a chair. Jake started shooting ATA from a chair and progressed to international when he was able to walk again. He loves being in the outdoors because nothing clears his mind like sitting in the woods or on a boat. Jake was part of Lindenwood University’s history of success having graduated from there in 2012 after being a part of four ACUI National Championships for the Lions from 2009-12. He currently resides in Colorado Springs where he’s a U.S. Olympic Training Center resident athlete. JAKE WALLACE: Hunting for Trap Superiority http://www.usashooting.org/news/usasnews/USAnews-2017-August/?page=22 Competition Highlights • 2018 World Cup Gold Medalist, Mixed Team • 2017 Fall Selection, Silver Medalist • 2017 World Championships Team Member • 2017 Qatar Open, First Place • 2016 Fall Selection Match Champion • 2015 Shotgun Team Selection, Silver Medalist • 2014 USA Shooting National Championships, Gold Medalist • 2014 Championship of the Americas, Silver Medalist – shot a perfect 125 in qualification to tie World Record • 2014 Fall Selection, Silver Medalist • 2014 Spring Selection, Bronze Medalist • 2013 Granada World Cup, Sixth Place • 2013 World Clay Target Championships Team Member • 2013 National Championships, Bronze Medalist • 2013 Spring Selection Match, Bronze Medalist • 2010 World Championships Junior Team, Silver Medalist (w/ M. Gossett) • 2010 World Championships Junior Team Member

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  • Todd April 9, 2021, 11:36 am

    Wonderful write-up with valuable photographs though a photo of droppings&feathers would have added value.

    As to scouting in general, it has always been a major component in assessing my enjoyment of absolutely all hunting whenever possible.

    Your noting a successful call-in as a partial win is priceless. I feel the same.

    Turkey-land is an inherently nice place to make excuses to be in year-’round. Too, it allows one to pick a site and be in place before they wake up and stumble around.

    Scouting for me…. some people call it camping and hiking too. (insert chuckling here)


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