Game Cams for Gobblers
Photo credit: JJ Reich
At its core, turkey hunting is simple: be in the right place at the right time. But sometimes there are a lot of right places. Trail cameras provide visual evidence to make your decisions clearer. You can you pattern a specific bird, learn when birds are traveling through a certain area and identify turkey travel patterns.
Tricks of the Trade
Here are few suggestions to help you create a game plan from using trail cameras on your next hunt:
Do a little footwork to start. Identify likely travel zones, roost areas, food sources, watering holes and strut zones. Search for clues that turkeys use these types of areas: droppings, scratches, wing marks, feathers and tracks, or maybe you have heard birds calling from an area. Set up cameras in these hot zones.
Position your cameras low and straight. Turkeys aren't as tall as deer, so place a camera only two feet above the ground. Point the laser straight, so the camera takes photos all the way out to maximum distance. Setting a camera high and angling it down will limit its field of view and reduce the number of birds you'll “catch.”
Take wide-area photos. Wide-angle shooting, and long range of capture, are key camera features. A camera that takes pictures over a large and deep area is ideal because it's more likely to capture turkeys moving through. For example, you'll want to see as much of a food plot or strut zone as possible.
Set your cameras to take multiple photos in sequence. Once a camera is triggered, you want it to take a series of photos. Turkeys are always on the move, so this gives you a better chance of getting a good photo.
Use multiple cameras. Cameras help you scout multiple spots at once. Four to six cameras are ideal. After all, the goal is to select the best spot for your hunt, and monitoring several areas gives you the best chance for success. But even one camera can pay off.
Check cameras often. Do low-impact scouting during the season by checking your game-cams during a typical mid-afternoon lull. Frequent pre-season checks are important, too. If you don't see birds on a particular camera for a few days or a week, adjust the camera to a new angle or direction. Or move it and set up your surveillance in another area of interest.
Keep a detailed turkey log. Log the dates, times and number of turkeys “shot” before, during and after the season. You'll also want to know where turkeys are at other times of year. Keep your records updated every year; this could identify new hotspots.
Use a trail cam on your next turkey hunt to increase your odds for success and add more fun to the hunt. Who knows, you might get lucky and shoot the bird twice… once with your camera and a final time with your gun! A high-resolution color photo of your trophy gobbler in the woods would be priceless hanging next to his beard and spurs on your wall!
— JJ Reich