Spring Turkey Hunting Tactics with Beau Martonik | Turkey Scouting & Prep
By: Beau Martonik
Spring turkey hunting on public land can be frustrating and exhilarating at the same time. As with hunting any species, consistently successful hunters are diligent in scouting and preparation.
Map Scouting - How to Find Turkeys
Before entering the woods, you can get a head start on locating potential turkey-filled areas by aerial scouting. In the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania, where I live, we have big woods areas with a lot of terrain diversity. Before turkey hunting season starts, I like to look for locations on the Spartan Forge app near private agricultural fields where turkeys might be hanging out to feed but need to roost in the timber on public ground. I mark areas that meet the criteria, focusing on the ridges above or around the private fields as potential roosting locations. In areas that don’t have fields, I look for hardwood trees mixed with grassy areas, such as gas lines and power lines, which might be a smoking gun feeding area.
It's essential to find as many turkey hunting spots as possible and mark them in your app. Have contingency plans to fall back on if your first hunting area didn't work out.
Locating Turkeys with Your Ears
One method to locate turkeys without doing a ton of legwork is to go out right after first light or just before dark and listen for gobbles. Toms will gobble in their roost trees where the sound carries across the valleys, making it apparent where they're located. This method isn’t intrusive and ensures you’re not spooking any turkeys you’re trying to eventually hunt.
In hill country, walk out on the point of a ridge or a high spot with other ridges and points across the valley. This will give you an auditory advantage to hear any turkeys in that entire drainage, helping you pinpoint where they are located. To increase your odds of hearing a gobble, utilize an owl hooter or box call to get them to shock gobble in response.
Setting up on a Turkey
Once you locate a turkey, the setup is critical for capitalizing on the opportunity and filling your tag. The setup is very situational, but a few rules of thumb apply and can increase your odds of success. The first is that you have a much better chance of calling a tom up a hill or across the same level, more so than calling him down a hill. This is because they can see below well and usually won't take the chance. If you can set up above them, you have a better chance of them coming in. The trick is to set up within shooting distance of the crest of the hill so as soon as he comes over the edge, you’re ready to shoot. On a recent East Meets West Hunt podcast, accomplished Pennsylvania turkey hunter Jake Stanisch stated that if he’s using a decoy with this type of setup, he always puts the decoy off to his left (since he’s a right-handed shooter). When the turkey comes over the hill and sees the decoy, at least he won’t be looking right past it at you sitting in front of the tree.
If you follow these turkey hunting tips, you’ll have better luck during season. Pay attention to the details, stay still and be safe!