Utilizing Trail Cameras to Scout for Turkeys

Much like deer hunting, turkey hunters need to be in the right place at the right time to kill a turkey. Location, location, location is everything when it comes to tagging a turkey this spring. In order to be in the right location a hunter must do two things first; scout and observe.  The more time you spend doing these two things and writing down what you have learnt the less time you will have to spend hunting before you are successful. Through your scouting efforts you will have a good idea of what birds are showing up at a certain location and at a certain time. 

Deer hunters have used trail cameras for years as a scouting tool, but a lot of turkey hunters have not yet begun to use this asset. 

Turkeys often follow a routine from one day to the next. Their feeding grounds, travel routes, strutting zones and roosting areas often stay the same unless pressure makes them change.  Sure, scouting from afar is a good tactic but hunters can’t be out 24/7 trying to pattern birds.  This is where trail cameras come into play.

You probably already have a good idea where turkeys like to hang out through other scouting efforts, wing drag marks, tracks and droppings. But, just seeing turkey sign still leaves a lot to the imagination.

By using trail cameras, you can learn a lot about the turkeys you are hunting. You can learn if the wing marks are being made by a jake or mature tom, the number of turkeys in the area and the size of the birds. Trail cameras will help define their feeding habits and where they are flying to from the roost. 

When hanging trail cameras, it is basically the same as you would for whitetails. The only exception is the height you hang them. If you hang them too high you will miss the birds.  If you hang them too low, you will have a very tight picture. 

Hang as many cameras as you can in different locations. This will allow the cameras to do the work for you. And, you will be able to tell if you have different turkeys throughout the area or if the same turkeys are leaving behind the sign.

Deer are known to move by cameras fast, sometimes just leaving a blur, a picture of a rump or just of the wide-open spaces. This is normally not a problem with turkeys.

Every two or three days go in and check the cameras. If they are not gathering pictures, move them. Deer hunters know they can go in around noon and check their cameras without spooking the deer. This is not the case with turkeys though. They are likely to be moving throughout the day. To prevent spooking turkeys, wait until mid-afternoon or even in the dark to check your cameras to lessen the chances of alerting turkeys to your presence.

— Jason Houser

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